Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Real Christmas Vacation...

The family and I were at Disney World for a week. And if that wasn’t enough, we spent an additional 4 days and 3 nights on a Disney Cruise in the Bahamas. At this moment, I don’t want to see anything that remotely resembles a Mickey silhouette for about 6 years.

We traveled with two other families which wasn’t all that bad considering we had three 3-year olds, one 9-year old, and one 1-year. We quickly discovered the key to a successful vacation with kids is to make sure the adults outnumber them, especially in Orlando.

A Disney World vacation is not as relaxing as one might think. We woke up at 7am every morning (daughter woke us up at her regular time) ate a quick breakfast, and headed over to a theme park around 9 or so. Stayed until closing 10-11pm. Crawled into bed. Child wakes at 7am. Repeat for 6 days.

But then something truly amazing came into play. We arrived at the cruise ship and that's when the real vacation kicked in…

"Where dreams really come true..."

Whoever invented that Disney Cruise concept geared specifically for families with kid’s ages 3-12 should be promoted, and then named king of the world. That kids program is definitely worth the price alone. The kids did not want to leave. At one point we had to literally drag them out. I’m not sure what they’re giving them (Candy? Unlimited Apple Juice? Crack?) Whatever it was, I don’t want to know because the wife and I got to dress up and have fancy dinners together. Sleep. Go to bars. Sleep. Go dancing. Sleep.
That kids program is open from 7am to 1am. What does that mean? Well, they feed the kids, entertain them, and even put them to sleep. Genius!

"This apple isn't so bad.."

Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter and treasure the time we have together. But after a week of Disney World, and not a whole lot of time of alone time with the wife for virtually years, a program like that is just what a parent needs.

Even though I’m extremely tired, a bit nervous that Christmas is nearly tomorrow, and wondering where to buy those last remaining Christmas gifts, I’m feeling pretty good. Why? Because my daughter had a great time, and the wife and I spent more time alone together in 3 days than we have the past 3 and ½ years. And that quiet time on an “adults-only” beach on a private island in the Bahamas while my daughter was so entertained by a kids program that she didn’t want to leave was pretty nice too.
Finally - a real vacation.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Kids Get Their Parents Sick - No Matter What They Do To Protect Themselves!

I should have been more suspicious when my daughter ran up to me with open arms and a big smile, yelling “daddy”, and hugged me while I was eating my breakfast. As it was all a preconceived facade to wipe her runny nose all over my new black shirt and run away.

Minutes later she came back handing me her partially eaten waffle saying sweetly “here daddy, you can have this now” and then sneezed on me - and the waffle - and then ran away once again leaving behind a slimy rope trail.
That was a week ago, and I’m just now starting to recover from that vicious cold virus she gave me. She, on the other hand, had recovered the next day.

When I finally came into work sharing my brave battle story of what I now refer to as “The Great Cold of ‘08” a co-worker with a new 5-week old first child confidently told me “Wow - that’s gross. That’s never going to happen to me.”


Then I thought to myself, “That was me 3 1/2 years ago...”
It’s not really his fault; he’s just getting started. There were plenty of things I didn’t know before having a kid. A few examples:
  1. Sometimes the child secretes strange unknown liquids from the most unlikely places that you temporarily think they’re really an alien. But a simple search on Google reassures you that they're normal.
  2. Having an early walker IS NOT a good thing. Because then they want to walk all the time and eat things on the floor like bugs, cigarette butts, lint, rocks, Jolly Ranchers in need of a haircut, etc.
  3. Never say the word “Poop” – EVER. Because if you do, it becomes a preschooler’s choice word for everything: “Poop Car”, “Poop Building”, “Poop Baby”, “Poop Shirt”, “Poop Bacon” (blasphemy!)
  4. The Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) is the best invention - EVER. Well, second best – KFC is the first best invention. Don’t argue with me because you’ll be wrong. And “no” that number isn’t for calling after eating their new non-trans fat fried chicken.
  5. You get sick just by being in the same room as your kid. In fact, you could be outside looking through a 6-inch aquarium thick, space shuttle "approved” glass and still get sick. Just being related is adequate enough.
That guy has a lot to learn…

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Questions? I’ve Got Answers

I get lots of searches in the form of questions primarily by parents looking for expert answers. Which is odd since the only thing I’m really an expert on is fried chicken.
Nonetheless these people are looking for answers, so like the model citizen that I am, I’m going to answer them.

All while eating fried chicken.

The Questions:

How to get toddler to sit and eat at the table? Duct tape usually does the trick. But if Child Protective Services is reading this, use constructive discipline methods such as hugs and candy.

How can i make my chicken taste like kentucky fried chicken? Wear a white suit, put the chicken in a bucket, and yell in a southern accent "this here chick'n is finger lick'n good!"

What can i teach to my 1year old baby? Not to eat things off the floor and give them crayons to scribble with. I did that with my daughter, she now scribbles on the floor and thankfully doesn’t eat anything off of it.

What do you when your 4yr old swears? Duct tape usually does the trick. But if Child Protective Services is reading this, use constructive discipline methods such as hugs and candy.

How to make santa claus fart? Buy him a gift card to Popeyes chicken.

What are mullet hair styles for boys? "The Richard Marx", "The McGyver", "The Billy Ray", "The Don Johnson."

How to remove booger on the wall? Use a water hose, lemon slices, or battery acid.

Does picking your nose cause more boogers to grow? Yes.

Can you get into chuck e cheese without a kid? Yes. Unless you have a mustache and/or chest hair.

What can an 18 month old draw? Scribbles and lines. But if you pass it off as your own and get a good agent, you could make millions in the lowbrow art movement.

My child picked his butt and has the poop on his finger now? Wrap yourself in a plastic tarp, wrestle the child onto the floor, but be careful of the offending finger. Tie him up and drop him off in Nebraska. But if Child Protective Services is reading this, use constructive discipline methods such as hugs and candy.

Is The Cure concert appropriate for kids? Only if they’re wearing makeup.

Is wicked the musical ok for children? If I had to guess an age, I would say around 9. Or maybe a mature 7 year old (or adult) that can sit still for a few hours and resist laughing at the ridiculous ending.

What type of animals can be trained? Dogs and Unicorns.

My 5 year old has an interview in private school what should i do? Rob a bank just in case he/she gets in.

Is it ok to spank your maid? In California, yes. Children, no.

Teenager's in the 1980's what did they do for fun? “We” woke up at the crack of dawn, milked the cows, and tilled the fields. Then played gin rummy after supper by candlelight while drinking Sarsaparilla and listening to Depeche Mode.

Why is it so loud at chuckie e cheeses? Because Satan himself created that horrible place to torture good people.

We had a bat in our house and now my child has a fever! He's going to turn into a vampire -- so do this quickly: Run into the garage and get a piece of sharp wood, chant in latin over tap water, and run into a nearby dark Forrest.
But if Child Protective Services is reading this, use positive healing methods such as hugs and candy.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What’s It’s Like Having The Scariest House In The Neighborhood

This Halloween I discovered the best way to scare kids.

It wasn’t the traditional decorations of skeletons, cobwebs, inflatable spiders, talking tombstones, vibrating ghosts, strobe lights, or smoke machines that suburban houses have been using for 1,000’s of years since the birth of The Great Pumpkin.

And it wasn’t the Lionel Richie pumpkin I carved which greeted them with the words “Hello” on it.

Nope, none of that!

It was the CD playing Lionel Richie’s “Penny Lover”, “Running With The Night”, and “All Night Long” on repeat.

A conversation with Optimus Prime and Mulan :
OP/Mulan: What kind of Halloween music is that?
CTD: “Running With the Night” is about running from synchronized dancing zombies in suits and hats.
OP/Mulan: That sounds scary!!
CTD: It is. I pray that you'll never have to experience it.

A conversation with Spiderman:
Spidey: Is that Halloween music?
CTD: Yes it is. “All Night Long” is about running from synchronized dancing zombies in black leather pants.
Spidey: Creepy!
CTD: Yes. Men in black leather pants usually are.

A conversation with 6-year old Hannah Montana in an oversized creepy blonde wig:
HM: Who sings that music?
CTD: Why, it’s the great Lionel Richie.
HM: Who?
CTD: ...Nicole Richie’s Dad...

(Confused look)

HM: She has a Dad?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FREE Unusual and Unique Halloween Pumpkin Stencils

In my house the best part of Halloween isn't the candy that I make my daughter collect for me from the neighbors - it’s the pumpkin carving.

And then it’s the candy, which is closely followed by black vodka martini’s the wife and I drink with the neighbors on Halloween night.

Every year I attempt to create some new ideas to outdo the Colonel Sanders pumpkin created a few years back.
The stencils below are my current efforts.

I haven't decided which to use this Halloween, but just like last year I’m posting the stencils for anybody to use this Halloween.
I just ask that these be used non-commercially and not to be reposted anywhere else.
(Click to download)

Jack Skellington
The original Pumpkin king

Angry Kid that resembles Gary Coleman
When teenagers come by with no costume tell them “whatchoutalkin’bout” and then slam the door

Lionel Richie
“Hello, is it candy you’re looking for?”

Check back soon - I’ll post more here as Halloween gets closer. AND I’m open to any ideas...

Links to Past Stencils: Colonel Sanders, Chewbacca, Mud Flap Truck Girl, Fairy, Ninja, Cinderella.

Black Martini Cocktail Recipe

And a treat for us deserving adults, the best Halloween cocktail ever invented: the Black Martini Cocktail.
Use Blavod black colored vodka.

  • 3 1/2 oz gin or vodka
  • 1/2 oz blackberry brandy or black raspberry liqueur
  • lemon twist or black olive for garnish

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Preschoolers and Politics on the Playground

Today as I picked up my daughter from preschool, I held the door open for a mom picking up her little girl who happened to be wearing a t-shirt of a presidential candidate.
As her daughter ran up and hugged her she had asked, “Did you tell your friends about who you’re voting for?”

Are you joking?

The girl is 3. If I had to guess, I’d say Cinderella, Spongebob, or maybe DeeDee Doodle

Since I’m relatively new and only 3 years into the parenting world I ask you fellow parents -- do parents normally use their preschoolers to campaign? Or maybe you yourself do it? Or maybe you’re just as bothered by it as me.

And for the record, I don’t care who any of you vote for. I’ll still like you the day after elections, even if it’s not my choice. Everybody has personal opinions; ideals, whatever, and I fully respect that.
But using a preschooler to shamelessly wear something for the parents’ viewpoint and using them as a campaign placard for something they just don’t understand troubles me.

My daughter’s new t-shirt just arrived yesterday...
And yes, she does understand the meaning of 11 herbs and spices.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How To Get A Princess To Behave

I was chatting with a fellow Dad at my daughter’s preschool about his son’s crazy obsession with Batman. The costume(s), the jumping off sofa and maybe occasional building; the permanent bat cave installation under the dining table, and the special Batman diet of only potato chips and hot dogs.
I told him he had it easy, my daughter is obsessed with Princesses. Which is just like Batman if he wore pink and sang to animals.

I’m not sure exactly when this all happened; maybe sometime around her 2nd birthday when somebody showed her the Cinderella movie for about 5 minutes. That’s when it became her crack.
At times it can be annoying:

“No, mice aren’t going to pick up that mess you’ve made”
“No, that magic wand isn’t going to make that kid playing with your toys disappear

At times it can be used for my advantage:

“If you don’t behave (holding cell phone to ear) I’m calling Cinderella and she’s going to ask for her stuff back!”

So far, my 3 years of parenting has taught me the "Princess" method sometimes works much better than "time-out" method.
Recently we had the opportunity to see Julie Andrews and a certain Mom asked her if she had any advice for a little Princess.
She did and this is what she said (in her really cool accent):

Princess Rules
A Princess always uses “Please” and “Thank You”
A Princess always thinks of others before herself
A Princess never slouches

Although good, I don’t think there are nearly enough especially for a 3-year old. So I’ve added a few to the list:

Princess Rules (v.2 additions)
A Princesses ALWAYS go poop on the potty.
A Princess NEVER whines.
A Princess NEVER asks, “What are we going to eat?” after leaving a restaurant.
A Princess NEVER watches the Doodlebops, Dora, Yo Gabba Badda, or the new Beverly Hills “90210”

Monday, September 08, 2008

Old School, Preschool, and Colonel Sanders

My daughter started preschool this morning and it did not go as I had envisioned...

She being nervous while packing lunch, difficulty getting dressed, walking her to the classroom with her hand clenching mine, huge puppy eyes and tears as I’m about to leave, screaming “Daddy! Daddy! Don’t leave me… I love you!!” as I walked away quickly, but maybe stopping a few times waving and whispering “I love you too, now go back to your classroom and learn the proper use of safety scissors...” as I backed into and disappeared in a fog with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Dean Martin patting me on the back assuring me that I am a good dad.

That's what I expected. In reality it went something like this:

Packing lunch – “No…I want to do it all BY MYSELF!”
Dressing - “No…I want to do it all BY MYSELF!”
In the car pulling up to the school “Drop me off…O.K…I see you later O.K!”

Uh no! I’m walking to your classroom and I BETTER SEE TEARS WHEN I LEAVE!!!!

I can just imagine what kindergarten is going to be like; she’ll probably end up telling me to drop her off down the street.

Happy Birthday To The Man That Invented Chicken in a Bucket!

And to think I almost forgot... thankfully some cool folks reminded me.

It’s hard to imagine, but prior to the birth of Harland David Sanders in 1890 nobody even thought about putting fried chicken in a bucket.

It wasn’t until his 3rd birthday on a farm in Henryville, Indiana while packing lunch for his first day preschool that he told his father, General Sanders, “Father General, I would like the pleasure of preparing my own meal for today’s schooling. Sir.”
When his father of little words nodded in agreement, young Harland instantly put 14 pieces of fried chicken with 11 herbs and spices in a red, white, and black cardboard bucket.

And then with his chicken bucket and Princess backpack in hand, his dad took young Sanders to school.

And he didn't even acknowledge his father as he walked away from his classroom - not even a wave.

And his father was so upset that he didn't want to eat fried chicken anymore. But then he got over it and went through the drive-thru anyways.

Monday, August 25, 2008

All Of My Friends Are Having Babies, And They Already Have One

There was a time when the wife and I were married for a few years and would hear things like “When are you having a baby?!”, “Are you pregnant!?”, “Why are you waiting so long?!”, “Why don’t you get a haircut?!”
When we finally did the next thing we heard was “It’s about freakin’ time!”

Really? What time is that? Because the only time I know is “Hammertime”

Then when our daughter was around 6-months-old people (primarily family) started it all over again…
“When are you having ANOTHER baby!?”, “Are you pregnant?!”, “You’re not really a parent until you have, like 6”, “Why don’t you get a haircut!”

What’s wrong with you people?! One is tough enough! Haven’t you heard of college tuition rising faster than inflation and $3,000 Miley Montana concert tickets!?

Good Times.

Somewhere in all that chaos we were fortunate enough to find solace with 2 other couples that, like us, had 1 child (girls) around the same age of ours.

It was awesome.

We did “play dates” with them to all sorts of fun places, even to a few that were still a little “nice” since the kids couldn’t get too out of control because we adults outnumbered them 2 to 1.
“Sit in your seat” They sat
“No, you can’t touch daddy’s liquor. Here drink some milk” And they would listen and drink their milk.
“Sing us some Lionel Richie” And they all sang “Dancing On the Ceiling” in unison.

Oh what a feelin’, when were all 1-child families…

What Happened?

Yes, all was good in the world until about 3 weeks ago when our 1-child "friends" welcomed their 2nd child at virtually the same time.

Oh great! What are we going to do now…?!

I’m happy for them, really I am. But I'd wished they had thought more about my vision of happy 1-child families before going off and having another one.

Sometimes people can be so inconsiderate...


So today I've finally come up with a few options to remedy the situation at hand:
  1. Have another one so we can join the club.
  2. Find new friends with one child.
  3. Get a haircut.
  4. Ask our current longtime hitched friends with no children, “When are you having a baby?!” “Are you pregnant!?” “Why are you waiting so long!?”

My daughter caught wind of her friends new baby brothers and is now whining at me, saying things like “I want a baby brother like Audrey and Maya!!”

I've told her she could have one only is she promises to feed him, take him for walks, and cleans up after him in the yard.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Wife Thinks I’m Crazy?!

It wasn’t the Elvis impersonator at our daughter’s 1st birthday, my potty training methods, the imaginary monster extermination ideas, my obsession with KFC/Spice Girls/Golden Girls/Circus Midgets/Real Estate Agent Pictures/Lionel Richie’s Mustache, or 98% of the weird stuff I've done and then write about.

Nope, none of that!

It was the 12-foot inflatable screen I got to play classic 80’s/70’s drive-in movies in the backyard for my daughter, friends, neighbors, and family.

(so awesome…)

About a month ago I came across a website which showcases crazed parents (primarily dads) that have created all kinds of cool drive-in theater setups in their backyards. These guys have huge screens, fancy projectors, nice sound systems, and even edit their own old classic drive-in intermission bumpers and cartoons. Amazing.

I don’t think I ever wanted anything this bad. Ever.
OK, except maybe ‘the Omnibot’ when I was 8.

Anyhow, it arrived on Friday just a day after scoring a great deal on a really nice projector (Sharp XR-32S – which works beautifully with my Macbook Pro.)
Now I have plans to do backyard showings of “Star Wars”, “E.T.”, “The Muppet Movie”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “The Dark Crystal”, “Back to the Future”, “Gremlins”, “Ghostbusters”, “The Goonies”, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”, “PS3 Guitar Hero Playoffs” and all other kinds of cool classic drive-in movies.

While the 3 of us were watching Pixar’s Cars, holding my daughter with the biggest smile ever, my wife turns to me with enthusiasm and said, “We should totally watch Xanadu!”

I think my wife is crazy.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

3rd Blogiversary!

It seems like it was only yesterday when this blog was created, with a 3-week old baby who had absolutely no concept of what 3am or sleeping meant, was in my arms.

Back then I wasn’t sure about what I was going to “blog” about. Maybe about art, or design, or post my sketches. Or maybe about monkeys with handguns, mustaches and top hats or something like that.
But whatever it was, it was going to be temporary because I had other things to do like write a novel, a movie script, illustrate 10 books, and learn to speak French & Japanese while taking flying lessons.

But then I got sidetracked…

I started writing about family life, my KFC obsession, strange men’s facials, parenting, Ohio, breast milk (*shivers*), among countless of other weird things I thought nobody (except my wife or that angry in-law in Ohio because I'd never heard of a "buck-eye" before) would ever read.
Now that my daughter is 3 I keep wondering how long I'll keep this up. Maybe it's when the wife doesn’t pay attention to my gift suggestions about Christmas and Father’s day gifts anymore? Maybe it's when I finally own an island in the South Pacific? Or maybe it could be when my daughter is old enough to Google and finds out I’ve been writing about her for years and cries at me to STOP because I’m embarrassing her in kindergarten …?

I just don’t know. Although the wife ignoring gift suggestions definitely justifies an end.

CTD Highlights
Favorite posts over this past year:
And some favorites over the last 3 years:
1st year links
2nd year links

The post that started it all...
Confessions of bunny killer

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Colonel of Your Very Own

When I was a kid, maybe around my daughter’s age or perhaps older, Kentucky Fried Chicken use to give away some pretty cool plastic hand puppets of Colonel Sanders.
McDonald's later caught on to the puppet fever and released their own plastic hand puppets of Grimace, Ronald, and I think that weird bird that couldn’t fly because she ate too many Fry Guys... I don't remember her name.
No matter, everybody knew those hand puppets weren’t nearly as cool as “The Colonel” - at least in my area of the world.

I use to play with my Colonel Sanders plastic hand puppet all the time. It use to battle with my Gobots (‘The Colonel’ would always win fights with his signature drumstick chop torpedo of doom), I would draw with it (I swear I could draw better with it on, maybe it was the magic of 11 herbs and spices), and sometimes it would be my only friend at 1am when my mom finally came home from work smelling like alcohol and cigarettes (“Colonel, why do mother and father fight so much…?”)

I miss that hand puppet(s)

I don't want to recreate the past, but I can recreate the Colonel. So I’ve created a "Colonel" Paper Craft updated for a new generation complete with his cane, signature white suit, and of course bucket of that finger lickin' good chicken (with 11 unknown magical herbs and spices from the planet Kentucky.)

This is what he looks like built...

...and here’s the Printable to make your very own:
(Click to download)

My daughter thinks he needs a friend so maybe I'll make a Lionel Richie one next...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So This Is What It Feels Like When Doves Cry…

(It’s that time of year again; my annual letter to my daughter on her birthday.)

Miss Bean (or as you now call yourself “Princess Sunshine Sparkles”),

Happy 3rd Birthday! I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone by. It amazes me how much you’ve changed in so little time; the transition from a baby to a beautiful, smart, and clever little girl with a strong personality still completely fascinates me.

A few things I’ve enjoyed this past year watching you grow:
  • Drawing on the driveway with chalk together, making up funny roads, games, and monster characters.
  • Hearing your stories about your imaginary friend “Captain Hippo."
  • Playing Wii (Duck Hunt) together and yelling “Ah man!” right after I yell “Ah man!” among a few other unfortunate things your mom shouldn't know about.
  • Helping me with small chores around the house such as loading the dishwasher, caring for the dog, and taking out the trash. I hope you still like doing chores next year.
  • Paying the cashier for lunch at some restaurant with the 4 pennies you found on the ground while saying “it’s OK daddy, I pay for it with my money’s”
  • Listening to you sing your interpretation of songs over, and over, and over again.
  • Cooking in your play kitchen, making me guacamole soup and chocolate tea for breakfast.
  • Driving by a KFC and you yelling out "Look Daddy! Yummy chicken place!!" (that would bring a tear to any colonel's eye...)
Your favorite things at this moment:

Dressing up as a princess, sparkle roll-on, Disneyland, watching movies on my iPhone, popcorn (or "crackcorn" as you call it), making “art”. DVD’s Enchanted, Tarzan, Cars, Incredibles, Lilo & Stitch, Cinderella, Mary Poppins, Dumbo, and Rambo (just kidding! That’s one of my favorites.)

Putting you to bed tonight on the eve of your birthday made me realize how much I’m going to miss you at 2. But at the same time I’m really looking forward to what new adventures and memories we'll have together at 3.


Monday, June 30, 2008

What To Tell a Toddler When the Family Pet Dies…

We came home this afternoon and discovered that our Beagle, Mr. Monkey, had died.

We knew it was coming for some time, about 2 years since the vet initially predicted because of his age and ails; but now that it has the grief and the guilt are kicking in. What has me really distressed is that I had a weird feeling about him last Thursday when he began losing his appetite. Now I have remorse knowing that I should have jumped on my instincts and taken him to the vet.

God, just the thought of him suffering alone with nobody around is just eating me up inside. I never wanted it to happen like that…

Mr. Monkey’s Origins

We found him at a Beagle rescue over 7 years ago, the weekend after we moved into our house. When we saw him we knew he was “the one” because he was very low-key, gentle, and just wanted to sit near anybody who would be willing to pet him for awhile. He had the personality of a cat, but came in the package of a dog.
He did have some odd traits, such as he wouldn’t put anything in his mouth, except food; wouldn’t play catch or fetch. And he couldn’t bark as his previous owners had him “de-barked” (the first I had heard of such a thing – a very creepy practice.) In place of his barking he made whimpering noises, which resembled a monkey, thus his name was given. Except we added “Mr.” obviously influenced by Mr. T.
Eventually his vocal cords did grow back and he was able to bark, a little, sounding more like an old smoker than a dog.
When our daughter came along she just adored him. He of course, like most dogs when a new baby arrives, didn’t want anything to do with her until she became big enough to drop small pieces of food - on purpose.
In the last year or so she began helping me care for Mr. Monkey. Brushing him in the morning and evening, feeding him at night, and serving him his meds. She had lots of 'conversations' with him which was both fascinating and entertaining. At times she could be showing off some “pretty dress” of hers, telling him what she’s done most of the day, or asking him if he’s seen some random movie. According to her, he has and likes all kinds of movies and he 'really likes' her dresses.

Since this just happened tonight, I’m expecting her to ask for him in the morning. And now I’m searching for the right thing to tell her.
Just how do you explain death to a near 3-year old, especially when it’s a pet that they’ve seen everyday for their entire existence?

I really don’t know. The only thing I do know is that I’m really going to miss him…

Friday, June 20, 2008

And Open Letter to Lionel Richie

Dear Lionel Richie (great singer/songwriter of countless love songs including “Brick House”),

My daughter began ballet class today. Your song "Ballerina Girl" now makes sense.

Fellow sappy father,

While watching my daughter dancing around looking like an adorable little doll, Lionel’s song (Ballerina Girl, not Dancing on the Ceiling) suddenly jumped into my head. Later, the wife had informed me of the video featuring a Dad and his daughter - I investigated and saw something very creepy: That Dad in the video resembled somebody very familiar…

(Now where do I get a harp that glows with neon colors?)

Yup, that was me. Minus the ugly blue sweater and cool man-perm hair. But add a digital camera, video camera, and excessive smiling and waving, and you wouldn't know the difference. I can just imagine how ridiculous I’ve must of looked to the other parents, which happened to be all moms.
By the way, “Brick House” makes sense now too.

For Inquiring Minds – My Father’s Day Update

I did end up getting a nice little BBQ. Regrettably there was no Playstation 3, Xbox, Porsche, Italian-speaking parrot, or slave girl Princess Leia attached.

Although, the wife did break out a bucket of chicken, the spicy kind, while my daughter yelled out “SURPRISE!! Happy Birthday Daddy!!!”

Then we all ate, and I got to take a long nap. It was the best birthday ever.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How to Get a Toddler to Eat: Chapter 143

Apparently telling a 2-year old to eat because there are kids are starving somewhere in the world doesn’t work.

We’ve been having trouble this past week getting my daughter to eat. I’m not sure what happened or what caused this behavior; it’s as if she’s lost all interest in food. And to think just a few weeks ago she had the appetite of a construction worker.

Not anymore.

Half the time I’m not sure where she’s getting her energy from; I'm beginning to think maybe she feeding from the radiation off the TV. The wife doesn’t think that’s possible. Obviously she doesn’t watch The Discover Channel.
So I came up with an idea: I’ve invited her favorite stuffed animal, Mr.L.B., to join the family at the dinner table.

He has his own place setting, sits quietly at the table while he eats, behaves, uses his “please's” and “thank you's”, finishes all of his vegetables, and comes up with pleasant dinner conversion.
Well, except the time his favorite presidential candidate dropped out.
Anyhow, it seemed she loved the idea because she actually started eating a little. But I think she’s had enough because this morning I saw this in the bathroom trashcan:

It's time to come up with another idea.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Utterly Speechless and Disgusted…

Wednesday began like any other - I was listening to NPR on the way to work and then heard something that went like this:

A federal grand jury has indicted a 33-year-old man on dozens of charges, accusing him of posing on the Internet as a teenager so he could molest at least 10 underage girls….

…using social networking sites such as and "to convince high school-age girls to have sex with him and pose for pornographic pictures," U.S. Attorney's office spokesman said…

…Monrovia police Lt. Richard Wagnon called the molestation case of Gregory S. S.'s one of the worst he has ever seen. (Full story here and AP here, FBI Release here.)

I nearly ran off the freeway in a mixture of shock and complete disgust. Greg was my best friend from 7th-12th grade.
I haven’t talked to him in well over 6-7 years. And when we did talk it was a brief conversation that didn’t go well. We had a falling out between senior year in High School and first year of college over a few things:
He got involved in a multi-level marketing insurance scam and became really aggressive about recruiting every member of my family, he was hanging out with these two sleazy cheese balls that I didn’t get along with, and oh yeah and there was “this girl” that he knew I was interested in and decided to move in on because of it.

An old friend from High School that I still keep in contact with called me a few months ago saying the FBI had called her asking her questions about Greg. They were calling everybody on his cell phone. They didn’t give much information to her about what he was being investigated for. Then I had heard from a few others in the weeks ahead and thought I would be getting a call soon. I never did.
The first thing that came to mind about this investigation was his involvement in the ponzi-insurance thing. I don’t think anybody had a clue about him being a child predator.

And then I looked at his MySpace, Windows Live, Friendster, and the most disturbing Netlog pages after getting emails from the old network of friends.
Looking through those had to be one of the most frightening things I’ve ever read. His life, pictures, so-called friends - but especially him posing as a 17-19 year old. He became this person I don't even know anymore.
Another old friend sent me the indictment, I couldn't read through it all because I began feeling sick after the 9th or 10th count... some of these girls were as young as 13. It's all truly disgusting.

This whole thing has me thinking constantly about a few things:
What if that thing back in H.S. didn’t happen or I just ignored it - would we have still been friends? Would he have been around my family or…. (gasp) daughter! I can’t even imagine… What if there was something I could have done to prevent this? Maybe I could have helped him? Maybe he didn’t have a real friend around telling him that this is completely and utterly wrong. Can pedophiles like this even be helped? From what I’ve heard he was still hanging out with those jerk guys from High School. I’m sure he told one of them about this, he liked to brag about everything… why didn’t they say something? What if those guys are doing the same thing? Out of the 10 (currently known) girls that he molested, why did only 1 tell her parents??

How many of these guys are out there right now trying to lure children?

That’s the one that keeps me up at night right now.
One thing I can say with absolute certainty I’m keeping track of EVERYTHING my daughter does and WHO she communicates with - especially when it comes to the internet.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

An Open Letter To The Wife Regarding Father’s Day

Dear Wife,

Please don’t buy me a Barbeque for Father’s Day.

Yes, I know. How? Because I saw the tabbed page of Barbeque recommendations in one of your women’s ‘contemporary lifestyle’ magazines. You know, the ones that gives makeup advice and then informs you to start your own off-shore bank account if we happen to argue over who’s doing the dishes.
Don’t ask me why I was looking through it.

O.K. there was an interesting article about low-cost organizing ideas (ice cube trays as a change holder? Genius!)

And instead of those “fun activities” they suggest to do on Father’s Day like “Dad and Child wash the car together”, “Dad and child clean out the garage together”, “Dad and child build an indoor spa, with inside locking door, for mom project”, etc. let me offer my own creative and unique ideas for Father’s Day:
  • Family picnic at the park and then permitted to sleep the remainder of the day. And for dinner you serve me popcorn chicken dressed like slave-girl Princess Leia.
  • A visit to Medieval Times so I can practice on my Sean Connery accent. You know, the one that closely resembles my Colonel Sanders accent.
  • Family “Knight Rider” marathon. And we can all ask KITT for more snacks by talking into our imaginary watches.
  • Visit the birthplace of Colonel Sanders: The Kentucky Fried chicken closest to our house. Or the one in the dodgy neighborhood but offers the spicy chicken selection.
  • Get Rock Band for Wii so the 3 of us can play. But only if they have Def Leppard, if not then forget about it.
  • Anything that involves at least two of the following together: circus, dwarves, rodeo, monkeys, fried chicken, fully potty-trained 2-year old, The Cure, one million dollars (after-tax.)
Your loving husband,

P.S. - ...or a Barbeque?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What It’s Like Calling The Poison Control Center...

They were actually very friendly and incredibly calm despite the terrified voice.

My daughter is completely into those glitter sparkles roll-ons that you put on like deodorant, except not under the arms but on the face. The wife bought her some for Christmas and now our daughter is addicted to the stuff like Gary Coleman to ice cream.

I was first opposed to the sparkles since my old roommate’s girlfriend use to wear that glitter junk ALL THE TIME, and it use to get all over the place – walls, floors, fabrics, passing birds, etc. One time I even found some in my Cookie Crisps cereal, which by the way, is just wrong!! (Where’s that Cookie Cop when you need him?)
Anyhow, this kid-version glitter my daughter has isn’t nearly as bad, and truthfully it really doesn’t go on her face at all. But she thinks it does and it keeps her occupied for a little while the wife and I get ready in the morning.

A close friend knows about her sparkle addiction and thoughtfully gave her a Princess purse set with more roll-on, glitter nail polish, and some smelly shimmering lip-gloss. She went crazy for the stuff.
So crazy that she decided to paint her lips and face with sparkling nail polish…

3 years ago a parent once told me “Trust me…add Poison Control Center to your cell phone.” (PCC 1-800-222-1222) I did that instant, along with Domino’s Pizza.

(Screaming child in background)

Poison Control Center: PCC, what’s the problem?
(Oh God… now I’m an even worse parent than Britney Spears and Miley Montana's dad…and I’ll probably be on Perez Hilton within the hour…)
PCC: Nail polish?… with Princesses?
Me: YES!!! NAIL POLISH with PRINCESSES... and Butterflies... and stuff dancing on it or something like that…

(*uncomfortable pause* ...Oh great, she's probably calling Social Services to pick me up right now...)

PCC: She’ll be fine. She’s probably screaming because it taste like Diet Pepsi.
Me: Diet Pepsi!?
PCC: Yes, I’m a pharmacist and trust me, Nail Polish taste like Diet Pepsi. Besides, it’ll take about take about 3 bottles of that stuff to do any real harm.

Then she asked for my name (...Gary?) and zip code then says, ”DO NOT to use nail polish remover, use petroleum jelly instead. And stay away from Diet Pepsi.”


Now I'm all alone with 'that' bottle of nail polish. Wondering...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mother’s Day Coloring Pages That You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

My daughter and I are getting ready for the upcoming mothers day festivities this weekend. We had gone shopping to get a little something for the wife and my daughter picked out some interesting “gifts” for mommy - Lego Blocks, a Power Ranger, a Doll bed...
Basically a bunch of toys that she wanted.

Anyhow, I won’t mention what we got her just yet, but I thought since my daughter loves to color I should make some coloring pages to go along with it.
She, like other 2-year olds her age, wanted to color pictures of Elmo, Butterflies, Unicorns, etc. But I wanted to be a little more unique, so I came up with these:

Lionel Richie: "You’re Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady – Happy Mother’s Day!"

Sophia and Dorothy: "Happy Mother’s Day, Ma!"

Elmo's Mother's Day Unicorn and Butterfly Birthday Party Fantasy

(Feel free to use for Mother’s Day. Click to download)

Can you guess which my daughter chose to give mommy?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I Want To Freeze My Daughter. Maybe Costco Has Something…

Can anybody help? She's going to be 3 soon and I wanted to know if there’s a way I can keep her 2-years old just a little longer.

Today while playing our favorite game together, "tea and KFC", I began to realize that she’s not a baby anymore. I started thinking about how big she’s getting and how different she is from this time last year. Back then she could say some words, even put some together like “Hi Elmo!”, “Red Car”, "Chicken Bucket", “Kevin Costner makes really bad movies...”
She could talk a little, but she was pretty much still a baby.

But now things are completely different. I’m not sure when it happened but in the past year she’s learned all kinds of new skills and tricks. She can now draw (or attempt), do stunts, has favorite shows and places to visit, plays poker (or attempt), has friends she talks about constantly, has a vivid imagination that completely fascinates me, tells stories, asks the most entertaining questions about the world around her that I’ve ever heard, and I can have really interesting conversations with her too:

Daughter: Dad-DEE, there’s a MONSTER under my bed
Me: Don’t pee in your pajamas, or he’ll stay there.
Daughter: (thinking) …O.K.!

Daughter: Dad-DEE, I want a baby sister
Me: OK, we’ll buy one at Target next time they’re on sale. Save your money.
Daughter: Oh, Thank you Dad-DEE! I get my moneys.

Daughter: (morning, just waking up) Dad-DEE, you use FEET to pedal a BIKE!
Me: That’s right! And you use a POTTY to go POOP.
Daughter: That’s right! Very Good!!

Why does this have to end when “2” just became fun? Her questions to me about the world around her as if I’m some kind of tour guide in a foreign country are really quite enjoyable; I like being the tour guide. And the best part is - I'm always right! She never questions any of my answers. To her I'm Yoda.
I just hope she still needs a Yoda tour guide at 3, 4, 5, etc. If not, I just may have to check those Target store ads for sales.

Maybe that's how you know when you're ready for another one...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

San Diego Made Me Sick! And Shamu Loves Kenny G

It did, literally. And now I’ve had a nasty cold since Monday. If anybody knows of any good remedies, please share.

We spent the weekend in scenic San Diego with some friends and their now 3-year old daughter, or as my daughter likes to call her “NO! My friend!” She's in this “No - My” stage right now that I'm finding difficult to break. Everything is hers, “No! My Daddy!”, “No! My Car!”, “No! My Princess!”, “No! My *insert pretty much anything*”.

On Saturday we were at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. We haven’t been there in about 9-10 years and the place doesn’t look any different - it’s still big, and has a valley full of “wild” animals that have been living in captivity for nearly 40 years. The only part that changed is that they now charge extra for everything in addition to the entry price. So you pretty much pay admission just to use the sidewalks.
My favorite area in the park was this HUGE Slush Puppy wagon near the Lions - I loved these Slushies growing up. I found them to be far superior to 7-11's Slurpees.
Anyhow, after I bought my $6 cup (inflation?) and filled it, the nearby Lions were all staring at me like I suddenly turned into a huge turkey leg. My daughter picked up on it and told them “No! My Slush Puppy!”
And then she experienced her first brain freeze near the African elephants trying to quickly drink about 1 gallon of melting slushy - by the way - trying to explain a brain freeze to a 2-year old is extremely challenging. I stopped trying when everybody around us was talking about this one elephant who was really excited and was dragging ‘it’ on the ground as he walked.

The next day we paid a visit to Sea World. Sea World was much better as the shows and rides were included with the price of admission – how old fashion but very convenient of them. And what made it even better was that none animals were dragging anything around.
As we walked around throughout the day I couldn’t help but to notice Kenny G playing the entire time. It was like somebody left the CD on repeat all day. Later, when I was asking a Hostess where the local Slush Puppy wagon was, I also asked about the Kenny G. She told me (jokingly) that all of San Diego loves him.

Then my daughter said “No! My Kenny G!”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Toddler Peer-Pressure And A Birthday Party From The Viewpoint Of A 2-year Old

We went to yet another kid’s birthday party over the weekend, but this time was a little different because my daughter insisted on bringing her Fisher-Price toy camera along. You know, the one Santa gave her for Christmas and was interested in for about a week and then decided it wasn’t worthy of attention anymore because she thought a cheap Happy Meal toy was much more appealing…

Figure 1: Happy Meal Toy
(Uh, what is it and what does it do? Oh yeah, make annoying noises...)

Well, I’m not sure what caused this sudden interest of picture taking again but it seemed as if she wanted to take the camera everywhere. To the store, park, pool, bathroom (while I was using it), etc.
The wife and I suspect that she saw one of the neighborhood kids or somebody on TV using a camera. It’s strange, if an older kid or character does something – she’ll want to do it too. Except, of course, pooping on the potty.

Her giving into peer-pressure scares me. For instance if Elmo told her to steal my credit card, passport, social security number, kidney, and send them to him she would do it in a heartbeat. By the way, that’s exactly why I sleep with the door locked at night.

Anyhow, she wandered around the party with the camera taking pictures for about an hour or two until she filled the 1,300 picture capacity memory card.

A few birthday pictures with added titles:

" Child with Long Mysterious Shadow"

"Sand detail and its shoes"

"Untitled, with clouds and bars"

"Rocking Horse with No Friend to Share Ice Cream With"

"The Man Imposing His Rules on the Little People"

"The Unknown Climber"

I knew she was done when she walked up to me while I was eating my Jell-O and cake, handed me the camera, and showed me her index finger saying “Look dad-DEE!... Booger.”

And then she wiped it on my pants and ran away.