Thursday, December 24, 2009

Explaining Christmas to One Confused Kid


We’re back from Disney World! Thankfully we left just before the place started getting really crowded.

The trip went great, plenty of sunshine, hardly any rain, and was an overall success. My wife and I were concerned about experiencing some major breakdowns since our daughter went without a nap for well over a week. But thankfully no major incidents except for one very odd thing that happened, which I’ll write about at some other time.

One big thing we do every year there is attend something called the Candlelight Procession at Ecpot. Which is rather nice show of tradition Christmas music with local youth and church choirs from around Florida and some celebrity narrator. Our celebrity was Whoopi Goldberg.
When Whoopi was talking my daughter somehow figured out that the baby everybody was talking about was the same Jesus that's dead and bleeding on the cross. During the performance she yelled at the wife and I, “Oh no! They killed the baby!!”
It seems like since we’ve been back I'll I've been doing is answering questions about why they killed the baby.
In addition to that, thanks to her preschools downplaying of Christmas and up playing of other holidays she’s been asking us where’s our Menorah candles at home and who are we celebrating Kwanza with.
For the record we don’t celebrate Hanukkah but have lots of Jewish friends and co-workers that do, and don’t even know of anybody that celebrates Kwanza.
That didn’t stop her from explaining the seven principles to others and singing to them a few Kwanza songs.

I had no idea they has songs now. Most of them sound remarkably close to Christmas songs.

I’m just waiting until Festivus gets so mainstream that they end up teaching that in preschool as well. I’m sure preschoolers would enjoy the “Airing of Grievances” (“I hate it every time you play with MY toys!”) and the “Feats of Strength” wrestling the head teacher to the classroom floor on the circle time mat.

Anyway, whatever you celebrate: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Umoja Kwanza, Another Festivus Miracle, or Happy Birthday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things Never To Ask a 4-year-old And Other Exciting Stuff


I can’t even describe how busy we’ve been the past few weeks…

After 3-years of demanding and difficult work, my wife finally graduated from Pepperdine University with her MBA last weekend. I for one couldn’t be more proud of her. Working full-time, going to school, papers, group projects, and having a family wasn’t easy.
When she began our daughter was only 18 months old and at the time we thought it wouldn’t be too straining on our daughter and marriage when in fact, at times, it was downright stressful. But thankfully we all survived and she did it. We’re celebrating the occasion by going to Disney World all next week.
My advice for any spouse thinking of going back to school with little ones is to make sure you don’t overdo it and make time for your family. Take advantage of those breaks between semesters and plan on some time during the week too.

Last week in preparation for the graduation we asked our daughter what she was going to wear to the festivities. She announced that she would be attending the grand ceremony dressed as Cinderella.
That was interesting…

I Am On Facebook…Kind Of.

Thank you all for the invitations but regrettably I am not on Facebook under Creative-Type Dad. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my dislike of “friending” people and all of the spam that comes with it about people doing stupid things like going to the bathroom, eating, walking to the car, and left the city life for farming. It all drove me insane!

That doesn’t mean that I’m not on it though. I am, but as an 80-year old bee farmer from Norway named Gjertson B Gjertson.
You can search and read about me but I am not accepting any friends. My wall is viewable to everyone and posts of my achievements in mindless Facebook games like Uno and Pet Society, as are my fandom of bacon and petitioning to get KFC to deliver popcorn chicken to my house.
On occasion, I sometimes post nonsense about Norwegian royal’s, news, or my interpretation of bee farming.
It’s all very touching.

And Speaking Of News…

My wife is pregnant with our second child! I can’t even begin to say how much I’ve wanted to spill the beans about this - I’m the worse person to hold a secret. But my wife wanted to wait until people started to think she was getting fat. The baby is due next May, which seems forever right now, but as with our first I'm sure the time will go by much too fast.
We find out what the sex is just after Christmas but that hasn’t stopped my daughter from coming up with names for the baby.

Some “name” suggestions:
-Peanut Butter
-Pickles
-Princess Ariel
-SaunaNana
-Bunny Rabbit
-Super Shiny Baby
-Lightening Bubblegum
-Rainbow
-Blue Waterfall
-Piggy Petunia
-Henry

In the car yesterday she asked me how the baby got into mommy's tummy.
The next few weeks, and months, should be really interesting...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Distinguished Guest Speaker Series – Preschool Edition


I’ve been doing speaking engagements at schools, on occasion, for about 10 years now talking primarily about what I do at my day job.
The art portion, not blogging (nobody wants to hear about that.)

Over the years I’ve had my share of audiences. Generally speaking, Elementary school aged kids are by far the best to present to. You show them some cool art, do a little talking while waving the arms around, tell a few jokes here and there, and 9 out of 10 times they give you a standing ovation like you’re Johnny Depp, or Chewbacca, tossing candy bars and live Ewoks into the audience.
Junior High kids? I don’t know what their deal is. They look all zoned out most of the time. Maybe they can’t wait to get their cell phones back to text the kid they’re sitting next to about “Twilight”, or they’re all on crack from watching too much “Twilight.” I’m not sure.
High school kids are oddly a mixture of the two described above, but they ask stupid questions if you let them like “what kind of car do you drive?”

To which I always answer “A really nice El Camino that can get me to the nearest KFC.”

So imagine my interest when the ‘head governess’ of my daughter’s school asked me if I wanted to speak to the entire Pre-K program? I couldn’t wait.
Now if you know 4-5 year olds then you know they have the attention span of a fly particularly when they’re in groups and have to sit quietly while watching somebody speak and especially if you’re not holding up a book and asking them to tell a Pigeon “NO!”
Or if you’re not a Transformer, Ninja, or Princess.

I dashed through the art, waved my hands around, made some silly jokes, and then asked if anybody had any questions about what I do or what they had just seen.

About 40 kids raised their hands at once.

Some of the “questions” (names changed to protect identities but to describe the kid):

Fancy Nancy – My neighbor’s dog, he bites on his leg EVERY MORNING…and my mom makes pancakes for me! (insert big smile)
Dora – If a bee bites somebody, they can DIE. (insert big smile)
Diego – When I was little, I sawed this show on TV and this robot ate a monkey and then my grandpa buyed me and my sister McDonalds and then...(confused look staring at the ground)
Smurfette – Unicorns and Ponies aren’t really real. (serious look)
Ni Hao, Kai-Lan – There’s a tiny mouse on the computer that shakes his booty like this. (gets up and shakes her bottom. All kids laugh)
Handy Manny – I can whistle. (starts to whistle while spraying/spitting on the kids around him)
Princess Sunshine Sparkles Fairy Ballerina Mermaid (aka, my daughter) – Daddy, can I go home early? (serious look)

I said yes and then we drove in the El Camino to the nearest KFC.

Well not really. I don’t own an El Camino.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What It Feels Like Just Before Your Legs Fall Off



I did something last weekend that I never imagined I’d ever do – I ran in a marathon. AND it was today that I was finally able walk like a normal person.

Just to be clear, it wasn’t the full 2,667 miles those robots that look like humans run that I met from far off places like Japan, Norway, and Fontana. Nope, it was the beginner’s course. The one just a few notches above the kid’s run to the ice cream cart.

I’ve been preparing for this since the summer with some encouragement by one of my gym instructors. I have to admit when he first brought up the suggestion I had to contemplate the idea for a few days as the thought of running ‘just for the fun of it’ was completely foreign to me.
Call me a traditionalist but since birth I’ve always been a strong believer in running only when it’s absolutely necessary. Like running away from a hungry Cheetah in tall tundra or escaped hungry Velociraptor dinosaur on a forbidden island. Or maybe running alongside an exploding wharf and jumping onto a moving speedboat like Don Johnson.

In the end I joined the ranks of people that run just for the heck of it. They wake up really early when regular folk are still rightfully sleeping, cinch up that iPod and run to the beat of some bad 4-hour long techno song rendition. I chose to leave the 90’s techno in the graveyard where it belongs and replaced it with much more appropriate 1980’s Def Leppard musical selections.

There’s just nothing like running to “Rocket” just before the sun comes up.

Nothing at all.

When I passed that finish line and the realization that I can run for long amounts of time without dying, I immediately realized that with some more training and a few more halves I probably could one-day graduate to a full marathon.
Why not? That guy that was 4 seconds in front of me was 69-years old!
Heck, maybe one day I'll Forrest Gump it and run to Disney World from Hawaii. I’ve already signed up for the L.A. marathon in March – that’s a start.

It now seems a little funny to me that there were times when I thought to myself “what did I just sign myself up for” while running for what felt like hours just before I passed a 1 mile mark. But hey, I got over and finished it anyways.
And I take back all those things I said after passing that finish line (“I’ll never do that EVER again…” “I can’t feel my legs”, “I think my lungs fell out at mile marker 3...”) It’s all ancient history now.

Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll even travel way out to Fontana just to outrun a Cheetah.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Why I Hate Facebook


Call it peer pressure, sheer curiosity, interest in the latest internet fad, or just wanting to stop those annoying emails of people wanting me to join Facebook; I finally bit the bullet and joined with my real name.

And then yesterday I determined that I’ve had enough and terminated my account.

I quickly came to the conclusion that I really don’t want an “update” when somebody is tired, tried a new food, hates their boss, met up with friends, hungry, kid has diarrhea, or when the dog just threw-up again. I don’t want to know everything they’re a fan of or when they just used crop fertilizer – it all just get annoying.
And there are just some things people say/update/post about that I REALLY don’t want to know about.

Besides I really don’t like the fact that it’s become an excuse to not email or pick up a phone and call real friends because posting on Facebook is suppose to be the same thing. I don’t find it the same. Call me old-school but I would much rather see my friends in person once in awhile, email, or even talk to them on this archaic device called a phone.
And texting really doesn’t count. I still don’t understand the whole dictionary of acronyms lingo. Although, I am a big fan of OMG and WTF.
Most of the time I find myself using an online texting dictionary trying to figure out what those stupid things mean anyway. I feel like freakin’ Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom.

Why can’t kids (and adults) use normal words, even with their phones have regular keyboards?! WTF people! Use words!!

I find it extremely annoying that technology has made people more impersonal and text in hieroglyphics to communicate with each other even when they’re in the same room.

In 100 years from now human mouths will evolve to just eat (stuff like delicious KFC) and not speak - all thanks to Facebook.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More CREATIVE and FREE Pumpkin Stencils!


It's pumpkin carving season and what would Halloween by without a Lionel Richie, Colonel Sanders, or Gary Coleman Jack-O-Lantern? Pretty boring.

This year was a tough one for my annual stencil making. My daughter was requesting a Princess and the Frog stencil - thanks to the commercials and billboards all around town for the upcoming movie. Oddly enough they don't make any pumpkin stencils for the new Princess so I created one for her.

An oldie I've always wanted to try was Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Now after creating it, I don't know if it'll live up to the neighbors expectations. They really liked the Lionel pumpkin last year and the Colonel Sanders one the year before that.
I have considered making the Colonel one again and improving upon it by putting real KFC fried chicken in it.
I'm still thinking about that one. It may be something I put together for a Halloween party.

Or I may just carve up the Balloon Boy. Although now looking at it, I may have to add his Dad getting arrested while he floats away...

Here are this year's stencils (click to download)

"Balloon Boy" Pumpkin Stencil

"Linus and the Great Pumpkin" Pumpkin Stencil

"Princess and the Frog" Pumpkin Stencil

"Evil Queen" Pumpkin Stencil

Prior year's Pumpkin Stencils can be found here:
Jack Skellington, Lionel Richie, Gary Coleman, Colonel Sanders, Chewbacca, Mud Flap Truck Girl, Fairy, Ninja, Doodlebop.

A big thanks to all of those who have emailed me directly with pictures of their pumpkins using my stencils. Even though I can't respond to all emails, I do appreciate you taking the time do to so and really enjoy seeing the pictures.

Monday, October 05, 2009

What To Do When There Are Monsters Attacking The House…


I’m not telling, I’m asking.

According to my 4-year old monsters keep attacking our house every night and according to her the only way to keep them away is to stay up late, sleep in our bed, eat Root Beer floats, and watch cartoons.

I think she’s lying because I do most of that already.
Well maybe not all of that. Just replace cartoons with ‘Glee’ and the ‘new’ Melrose Place (don’t judge me.)

Oddly enough this is the first time we’ve ever has to deal with nightmares. My daughter has never had any up to this point before, even, after that one incident we had awhile back with monsters behind our sofa. Or that incident with the Potty Training when I told her monsters ate poop in diapers and that’s why she needed to use the toilet.

Or that one time we watch some of Pirates of the Caribbean together.

Or that time we took her to a Tom Jones concert.

Or that time we watched Rambo. But she wasn’t really paying attention anyway because we were too busy playing Blackjack.

I just don’t get it?

So like the practiced and skilled father that I am, I stepped back from the situation and did some well-researched, logical, scientific studies on just what are the primary causes of children’s nightmares.

What Causes Children to Have Nightmares:
  1. Mom and Dad NOT locking the door
  2. Kevin Costner babysitting puppies
  3. Major events like starting a new school, divorce, death in the family, or new sibling
  4. Mom and Dad NOT locking the door
  5. Recent firing of Walt Disney Studios president Dick Cook
  6. The entire state of California on FIRE all the time
  7. Mom and Dad NOT locking the door
  8. Zombies attacking Orlando, Florida while on vacation there
  9. Lady Gaga
  10. Typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides, floods, and train derailments
  11. The Halloween display at Target
  12. Mom and Dad NOT locking the door

So now that I know the causes, I came up with some quick solutions…


How to Get Rid of Children’s Nightmares:
  1. Mom and Dad taking the time to LOCK the door
  2. The horn of a unicorn and crystal necklace
  3. Spraying the room with monster repellant (plain water)
  4. Leaving an uneaten box of KFC popcorn chicken downstairs before going to bed
  5. Child signing affidavit that they won’t whine or cry when getting ready in the morning until age 18
  6. Stranding Kevin Costner on an island with no movie camera, electricity, and friends
Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Doodle Pages For Grown-Ups and Kids That Can’t Read


What started out as a great idea earlier in the summer has suddenly become quite a chore.

My daughter has a collection of those so-called “Doodle Books”, you know the ones with those half drawn pictures that ask you to draw everything from food to how many teeth a hockey player has left in his mouth.
These books have definitely run their course through my house. I’m now to the point of creating my very own…

(click to download)

"How much stash does Yo Gabba Gabba have left?"

"What did the Gnome set on fire?"

"Draw all the single ladies"


"Fill in Lionel Richie's Chest hair"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Kindergarten Myth


Now that summer is sadly over, about half the kids in my daughter's preschool have gone off to the great "Kindergarten."

I put it in quotes because from what my daughter has been telling me, it really has changed a lot from the days when I was a kid.

An actual conversation--

Daughter: Reece's last day was today...he's going to KINDERGARTEN in Antarctica!
Me: Really? Antarctica
Daughter: YES! And his mommy and daddy buyed him a new car when he turned 5 and got married to Melena. She's going to KINDERGARTEN too!
Me: Wow, Kindergarten, married, and a new car. At least they can get the married rate on their car insurance.

(blank stare)

Daughter: I don't know what that means.

Daughter (continued): When I go to KINDERGARTEN, can I go to THE MOON!?
Me: Sure, but only if you promise not to get married right out of preschool or move-in with a boyfriend, or ask for money, and call your mother at least once a week.

(blank stare)

Daughter: I don't know what that means.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Questionable Common Sense Advice


Not sure when exactly this happened but my daughter has suddenly gotten into giving advice.

Not only advice but also suggestions, guidance, and pretty unusual bits of information too. She’s been dishing it out to neighbors, babysitters, strangers, kids, adults, animals, manimals, and just about anything that listens.

In fact, when she saw me writing this she told me I needed more “T’s”.
Apparently it was lacking.

Some recent random bits:
  • Don’t eat a hamburger outside. A bird could poop on it.
  • Octopuses have lots of testicles, that’s why they’re so mad.
  • At a museum it’s OK to touch your own art, but not anybody else’s.
  • Never ever tell a cat he’s ugly.
  • Lionel Richie eats at Souplantation, but only on Thursday.
  • You can call Elvis “Chad” at any time.
  • If you practice everyday, you can sing underwater.
  • When you burp make sure a Tiger is not around.
  • Everybody should have one pink dress.
  • Crabs have families too; they just don’t draw pictures for each other.
  • You need to be 125 to drive a car. You need to be 5 to get married.
  • Don’t EVER shake a crocodiles’ hand.
  • I don’t even know anybody that has a Kindle. Maybe a Monkey?
Now I'm having doubts about eating outside tomorrow as I'm taking a hamburger for lunch...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

4th Blogiversary!


I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since I’ve started this blog. How different the world was back then with a 3 week old baby girl possessing the feeling of both excitement and anxiety of the unknown new world of parenthood.

This blogging of mine began late at night when our house felt more like a 24 diner with one demanding customer. Late night feedings quickly shifted from bad late-night TV to the Internet searching for other parents looking for tidbits of advice and insight (some still blog and are on the links to the right.) Then that slowly turned into my own writings about my own experiences and sometimes more than often random thoughts.

Over the years I’ve contemplated stopping for lack of time or sometimes significance, but then realized that these posts, no matter how random, personal, or infrequent document something that could be of interest to my daughter sometime in the future.

Or her future therapist, depending on who you’re talking to.


Highlights Over The Years:

If My Daughter Becomes a Vegetarian

The Elvis Impersonator Was Late to My Daughter’s 1st Birthday Party

KFC changes their chicken - My letter to Colonel Sanders

My kid saw me pee

Men are from Mars, In-Laws are from Uranus (and they watch Football)

Birthday party: Chuck E Cheese is one ANGRY rat

Thank YOU for being a friend (with a Wii)


Parents that wait in line for hard-to-find Christmas gifts

Get me a beer, I'm feeling pretty manly after changin' the oil

It's NOT a facial - It's a MEN's facial!!

An open letter to the wife regarding fathers day

Mother's day coloring pages that you won't find anywhere else

The Easter bunny must be living large in beverly hills


I'm preparing for my daughter’s kindergarten interview

A message to toddlers: nose picking is very unpatriotic!

My daughter’s imaginary friend: an unauthorized biography

When 'time outs' don’t work

How to Catch an Imaginery Monster

Exterminator wanted! apparently my house is infested with monsters *Popular

Potty training coloring pages *Popular

Colonel sanders and santa claus must be brothers or just angels sent from heaven

Halloween night randomness! Pet parents, pimps, and...

HELP! I think they may take away my man card

Are you there God? It’s me Tony…what’s happening to me!?

Teaching Good Habits....with coloring pages

Annoying Cartoon Characters

How To Get a Princess to Behave


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Swine Flu Sucks! A Lot!!


I don’t care what the doctor says; I blame the chocolate covered bacon I bought at the Fair.

Never in a million years did I ever expect that anybody in my family, or even anybody I knew, would ever get hit with some media scare worldwide epidemic. Boy was I wrong…

My daughter’s been learning about all kinds of animals in preschool the past few months and wanted to see some “real” ones. Apparently the ones on TV, in books, or I draw aren’t good enough for her anymore.

So here I thought, “Hey! The L.A. Zoo is pretty dirty and smelly so let’s avoid the place because we could get bird flu by just walking through the turnstiles.”
And “The L.A. Country Fairy is pretty dirty, smelly, scary, and last time I was there I ate a deep-fried Oreo and nearly died near the deep-fried pork chop on-a-stick wagon.”
But 5 years ago we paid a visit to the Orange County Fair down South and saw Huey Lewis in concert.

HUEY LEWIS!!

And they have dancing cows, acrobatic horses, race car driving pigs, chickens that play ragtime on piano’s while smoking cigars… you know things people normally don’t see everyday - except if you live in Fontana. But Huey Lewis would never visit Fontana.

What could be better, right?

It all happened just after the visit to the chocolate covered bacon cart… Oh, in case you’re wondering, it’s basically salad-style bacon bits in chocolate clusters, but packaged in a Chinese take-out box. It’s like salty chocolate - Weird!
So there we were watching the Chinese acrobats holding live horses, on their heads, and then the horses were speaking Chinese and stuff (“Don’t drop us! Don’t drop us!” – I understand Chinese fluently) and then my daughter says “Daddy I’m not feeling good…”

“Don’t worry, they’re not going to drop the horses anymore…”

Two days later we’re at the doctor and while he’s telling us the news (“You’re daughter has Influenza A, subtype H1N1 othewise known as…”) I’m thinking to myself does that mean my family has to join some leprosy style camp now far away somewhere, like Fontana, separated from civilization?

Thankfully we weren’t sent to Fontana (Thank God!) It just meant my daughter was sick for 3 more days, which wasn’t too bad. But then my wife got bronchitis after getting the plague, but then recovered after the week. And fortunately nobody turned into a pig or started squealing while sleeping like I’ve heard so much about on ‘the News.’

The lesson learned: don’t ever go outside again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Man’s Man and the Modern Man



Men from generations past are much different than the ones today.

For example, my Dad was a mixture of Dwayne F. Schneider , Rambo, and MacGyver. He could fix just about anything with duct tape, the Swiss army knife on his key chain, and if needed the clothes on his back.
One time our car broke down and he used his own belt to substitute the broken engine belt. It lasted just long enough to go get ice cream and then pull into the car shop – our garage.

He looked down on people that used things like, AAA, power tools, mechanics, air-conditioning, or bottled water ("use the water hose!")

Now that I’m older and a Dad, well I get pretty excited when I can hang a picture on the wall straight. And I do it only so I can use the leveler app on my iPhone. I love that app. And I love my friends at AAA.
I’m not anywhere near as handy as my Dad especially given my track record the past few years – fixing that broken toilet (story link here) which is still kind of broken but I’ve learned to live with the hissing. And the time I changed the oil in my car (story link here) with assistance.

My iPhone now has a pretty good handyman on voice controlled speed dial. I programmed it - wait for the beep and say “iPhone, get me the handyman on the phone… now!” and it does. And then I say, “Now continue playing more Depeche Mode songs” and it does.

My daughter just got a bike for her birthday and the little girl next door got one on the same weekend too. So two other Dads’ and me were outside on the driveway trying to put these things together with no luck for about an hour. Why 1,200 pieces is beyond me! They might as well just pack the box with raw sheet metal, flower stickers, and pink paint.
Anyhow there we all were, me with my iPhone looking up the manufactures website to send a complaint email, and the other guys with all sorts of tools spread out all over the ground. Some still in fancy cases all shiny and new, perfectly organized by size, make, and color.
After I sent my complaint email, I looked up and realized how mortified my Father would have been if he were around.

“What's wrong with all of you!? AND with tools that are organized and NOT just thrown in a paper bags and jars? Bunch of communists!”
He probably would have run us all over in his 1978 truck still being held together with a roll of duct tape.

I felt ashamed.

Ashamed for not knowing what to do. Ashamed for not paying attention more to my Dad when I was growing up. Ashamed that these guys were my neighbors. Ashamed that my child is growing up without a Dad that can to put a simple 1,200 piece bicycle together in 12 minutes flat like the instructions say it should. Ashamed because the happy little girl pictured on the box probably has a Dad that put that bike together with raw sheet metal and pink paint in his sleep.

“Stop!” I yelled to the other guys. Then after the beep I shouted, “iPhone, get me the handyman on the phone… now!”

"Daddy attached the stickers!"

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday Sunshine Sparkles Princess Ballerina Fairy Olivia Newton-John!


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



Miss Bean! Or as you now call yourself “Sunshine Sparkles Princess Ballerina Fairy”,

Happy 4th Birthday! I say this with both enthusiasm and sorrow as the year has flown by far too quickly. I know it’s cliché to say but I really can’t believe how fast these 4 years have gone by. I still remember the day you were born (with the attacking Ninja’s) like it was yesterday.

A few things I’ve enjoyed the past year watching you grow:
  • Stories of your imaginary sisters Sauna and Nana from Cloud Mountain, and their baby brother Lightening Bubblegum.
  • Our trip to Paris and the experience through your eyes.
  • How excited you get doing chores, helping, and putting stickers on your chore chart.
  • Asking for a cat and then drawing pictures of you two playing. It didn't work but I admire the effort.
  • Listening to you sing just about anywhere and ballet dancing in the aisles of stores without even thinking.
  • The tea parties you throw while dressed up like a Fairy or Princess.
  • Playing restaurant in the car on the way to school by taking meal orders and telling your mommy and me the specials of the day - like "Tree Pie."
  • Painting and drawing together. Seeing your vivid imagination at work.

Your favorite things at this moment:


The color Pink. Souplantation. Music from Elvis, Bee-Gee’s, and Coldplay. Movie night on the giant screen with the neighbors, any art projects that we do together, Ballet. Anything that has to do with Paris. Making crafts and pictures for friends. Playing games on the iPhone and Wii. Making Pizza’s together while singing Tom Jones songs. Anything that has to do with Ariel or Silvermist.
Watching DVD’s Blue Hawaii, Little Mermaid, Fantasia 2000, The Three Caballeros, and AristoCats over and over again.


Tonight on the eve of your birthday as we made, of course ‘pink’, cupcakes for your preschool class I realized how much I’m going to miss you at 3. But at the same time I’m looking forward to the memories waiting for us when you're 4.

You may be a year older, but in my eyes I’ll always see that cute little baby girl with those big eyes, huge smiles, and silly belly laughs - even when your 30.

Love,
Daddy

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Little Ballerina Girl


There are certain first moments I’m going to remember about my daughter forever: the day she was born in a tub, her first word (which by the way was “dada”), the day she took her first real walking steps, the first birthday party with the Elvis impersonator, the first day of preschool, and now I can add her first ever ballet recital to the list.

A full 3 and a half hour extravaganza (not including intermission.)

I can’t honestly think of another moment that I was more anxious about. Well except maybe her actual birth, and that late-to-the party Elvis impersonator comes to mind too.
While waiting and anticipating her moment on stage, there was plenty of time to reflect on my little girl who was just a baby not so long ago. Thinking about how weird it was that she’s nearly 4 and how quick she’s growing up. Wondering if she’s paid attention in ballet this past year - especially the last 4 months dancing to the same routine. Hoping that she did her best and wasn’t that ‘one’ ballerina that I’ve heard so much about that gets stage-fright and runs off stage crying.
A million other things were running through my mind by the 3rd hour including why they still teach kids “Tap”, what college or preferably Art School she'll end up going to, and why that Lionel Richie song still haunts me at the most awkward times.

When the curtain closed on the hip-hop kids wearing bedazzled MC hammer clothes and opened for the 92nd time, the noise of “oohs” and “ahh’s” filled the auditorium and I found myself standing up nearly yelling “that’s ma’ little ballerina girl!” clapping and hooting like she just scored a basketball home run, goalie, Stanley steamer (or whatever it is they call it these days.)
I guess that’s what it feels like to be a proud parent – in a Tony Danza sort of way.

My wife, of course, sat beside me with a huge smile and tears. My eyes watered a little, just because I was laughing at how cute she looked, and how the short performance looked more like a routine out of the Muppet show -- funny little legs moving around unsynchronized; each ballerina looking at each other not entirely sure of what to do next, frilly little costumes bumping into each other.
At the end of the routine they all gave their little bows. The same bow she’s been practicing for weeks and “had to show me” once more to make sure it was perfect before she kissed me, yelled “bye Dad!” and ran backstage.

Then that crazy Lionel Richie song popped in my head once more.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Father’s Day Conspiracy


Why do people hate Father’s? The TV, Stores, Magazines, Organizations, Advertisers, America, Cats -- just about everybody.

It’s not difficult to notice that for Mother’s Day the entire month of May is devoted to ‘Mom’. There are pastel posters everywhere with all kinds of slogans, special commercials with fancy jingles, charity walks with celebrities raising money for all kinds of women causes. And who can escape the ads for gift suggestions:
  • $10 Talking Greeting Cards
  • Flowers with fruit in the vases
  • Shopping gift cards
  • $70 Champagne Brunches
  • Jewelry
  • Engraved anything
  • Custom memory books
  • Spa Makeovers
  • Getaway Trips without husband/kids/anybody remotely related
  • Lexus
In comparison some of ads I’ve seen for Father’s Day gift suggestions this year:
  • Garage Floor Coating
  • Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing
  • Search and Rescue Headlamps
  • Outdoor Storage Shed
  • Whole House Air Duct Cleaning
  • Free beer for Dad with purchase of 3 lunch entrees and 3 drinks
  • Car Wash and Detail Kit (for Mom’s Lexus I guess…)
Huh?

Maybe by the end of the week they’ll be suggesting things like gas cards as the perfect Father’s Day gift.

It really is much simpler than that – I would be perfectly happy going on a family outing to my favorite eating place, taking a long uninterrupted nap, and getting some hand-made art that I can hang up at work with a note saying that if she becomes the first woman president it's all because of me.
And if I happen to get a floating waterproof table tennis, or a beer holster - that would be nice too.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tough Love vs. Spanking


Most people think it is improper to spank children, so I have tried other methods to control my kid when he has one of those moments.

One that I found effective is for me to just take him for a car ride and talk.

Some say it's the vibration from the car, others say it's the time away from any distractions such as TV, Video Games, Computer, IPod, etc.

Either way, my kid usually calms down and stops misbehaving after our car ride together. Eye to eye contact helps a lot too.

I've included a photo below of one of my sessions with my son, in case you would like to use the technique.

Sincerely,
A Friend



Source: I have no idea who wrote this as it was forwarded to me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ronald McDonald Is Evil and Has Bad Taste In Music Too


I told my daughter McDonald's burned down – all over the place - and that we can never go there again.
Why? Because of the Kidz Bop CD’s they were giving out with the Happy Meals.

For the last 9 months after her Ballet class I’ve always taken her to the nearby McDonald's for dinner. Its become our little once a week tradition that we both look forward to.
Sitting there almost feels like we’re in an 80’s commercial: a 3-year-old dressed in her Ballet clothes with Dad across the table usually instructing her how the Happy Meal toy works.
But this day was different; she got a Kidz Bop CD and asked to play it in the car.

That was one long drive home…

Why has no one given me a proper warning me about this? The CD label should at least have a warning label on it that says, “WARNING: KIDZ SINGING ON THIS CD HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO MUSICAL TALENT WHATSOEVER.”

I stopped the CD at the Kidz version of “Funkytown”, which by the way is an alteration Lipps, Inc probably never intended, and told my daughter that the CD broke.

“It’s like a sticker, you can only use it once” and then changed the subject.

Later, I threw it in the recycling bin hoping they could melt in into something useful like Wii’s, iPhones, flying cars, or better yet Happy Meal Lego toys. Until then, I have a 3-year-old that won’t stop asking when I’m taking her to Funkytown.

Has anybody else encountered bad kids music? Have you discovered "good" kids music? Or does that even exist...?

Monday, May 18, 2009

“What I Want To Be When I Grow Up”


No, this isn’t my list. I already know what I want to be when I grow up: Mr. T. Or a king/dictator/emperor of a small island in the pacific with a KFC franchise.

The weekend was fun as it was just my daughter and I while the wife was busy at some workshop for her MBA program. We spent most of the time drawing, painting, swimming, playing video games, and watching movies – we FINALLY saw that Monster’s Vs Aliens movie in 3D. I was disappointed as it was totally overrated. When the credits rolled my daughter turned to me and said in a serious voice “the monster movie wasn’t that good.”
Happy to know she has good taste. Well, not that good since she still likes that ‘Kidz Bops’ music.

Anyhow, I can’t even begin to explain how much I love spending time with just her. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy spending time with both my wife and daughter – I do. It’s just my wife doesn’t jump up and down, yell in excitement and start clapping when I say things like “let’s play video games!” or “let’s go get some popcorn chicken…and play video games!”

Generally I’ll get an unfavorable stare.

Some of the conversations with my daughter can get pretty interesting because usually she’ll have an answer and opinion for just about everything from her 3-year old point of view. Celebrities (Oso, Elmo, and Hannah Montana all wear too much makeup), politics (Princesses just need to keep dancing on the Earth), the housing crisis (make them all pink) and yesterday she spent most of the day telling me what she wants to be when she grows up. Here are a few:

Truck (Pink, but can sometimes be Purple)
Butterfly
Order taking lady at Wendy’s
Princess Ariel
Duck (Pink one)
A mountain with clouds
A nice bumblebee with a pink truck
Souplantation
Fairy with a sparkly elevator
Kitty cat haircutter and doctor
Ballerina that can fly with a wand
Unicorn with a pink truck
Guacamole

In my view, she can be anything she wants to be. Except maybe guacamole.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Back From Paris and Oprah Buys Me KFC


It’s strange how much the world can change in just a few weeks since we’ve been gone. And huge things too like the worldwide swine flu epidemic and Oprah’s KFC scandal.

Our last week in Paris was fantastic. The weather was in the 60’s mostly sunny with no rain, and days were spent walking, visiting parks picnicking while my daughter enjoyed huge playgrounds (most with entrance fee’s - even for the swings!), carousels, sailboats in large fountains, and sometimes uncomfortably violent preschool puppet shows.
The French puppet shows always involved a popular character named Guignol chasing somebody with an axe or beating anybody over the head with a broom. When he starts at it the kids, and a few adults, would all stand up and start yelling (in French) things like, “Go Guignol!”, “Beat him! Beat him!”, “Make him firewood!!”
It totally brought back memories of my birthday party piñata experience (link here.)

The other great part of the trip was my daughter making friends with kids on the playgrounds (both English and non-English speakers) and the wife and I making small chat with the parents. They had some thoughts on the Guignol shows too -- predominantly that the shows have been toned down.

I guess he use to set others on fire...? That would definitely explain the “Make him firewood!” screams.

For those interested I’ll be posting on my review blog “Traveling to Paris with Young Kids” recommendations sometime next week.

Oprah Fried Kentucky

What was KFC thinking?

Of course billions of people are going to run in trying to redeem their free coupon.

I don’t know who came up with that promotion idea, but they should be fired and their portion of Kentucky Grilled Chicken should be sent to me.

What perfect timing for Father's Day ...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bonjour from Paris!


I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but we’ve been busy these last 11 days.

The weather has been near perfect most of our trip, the place is MUCH cleaner and friendlier that I remember, the food is absolutely amazing, bringing the nanny along with the BEST idea ever, and the wine – oh the wine -- I’m now completely addicted to 2005 Bordeaux’s.

Oh and I’ve mastered the entire French language: I speak English in a heavy French accent while occasionally throwing in a French word or two – when English speakers ask me for directions.

Anyhow, here’s a small sampling of what we’ve been up to:

Jardin du Luxembourg (guess what happens when you walk on the grass? They shoot you)
Chateau de Versailles (It's HUGE. No wonder why they hung him. Note to self when I become king - don't flaunt the money, hide it in a big hole instead)
Sacré Coeur de Montmartre (used my heavy French accent many times here)
Notre Dame (no Football team here or Irish people boxing)Picnic on Seine/Bike ride in Giverny (wine, cheese, and... chips)
Claude Monet's garden at Giverny (he actually planted the place himself... and dug the pond with an old spoon)
Musée d'Orsay (This was once an old train station...and roller skating disco for 3 months in 1979)
Musée de l'Orangeries (Monet's waterlillies on the wall and no they don't sell Oranges)
Musée des Egouts (aka "sewer tour" – our nanny and my daughter wanted to go. It stunk really, really, really bad down there. I still threaten to send my daughter down there when she isn't behaving)
Moulin Rouge (Magicians, jugglers, live snakes & ponies, and topless women)"The" Louvre (how do you keep a 3-year old entertained for 5 hours in the largest museum in the world...?)
Disneyland Paris (...you bribe her with a trip here. I'm convinced that's why they built it)
France Miniature (see all of France in 3 hours... built out of Lego's and cheese)

More to come later... à plus tard!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to Survive Long Trips With a Preschooler Without Going Crazy


What does your kid do at 6AM? Mine has been walking into my room and yelling “ARE WE GOING TO PARIS TODAY!?”

And then when I say not today, she lets out a big sigh and then asks when is the Easter Bunny coming back because she’s out of candy.

Her excitement is contagious, but I worry about one thing: the 12-hour plane ride.

(Why did they have to build that Paris so far away…)

Our previous long airplane ride of 13 hours when my daughter was nearly 2 didn’t go well at all. We made the unintelligent decision of giving her Benadryl on that flight which had exactly the opposite effect we wanted. It made her irritable, extremely cranky, and borderline hyper for about 4 hours.
When we later told our pediatrician about the strange outcome of the miracle drug, we found out that giving a child Benadryl to make them sleep is a myth completely made up by people that don’t have kids but love giving out parenting advice because they watch a lot of TV and have cats.

Well, not really. I made the cat’s thing up. But wouldn’t be surprised if they did own them.

Some tips I’ve gathered so far on flying with kids:
  1. If they understand what money is, bribing works.
  2. Take new toys that they haven’t seen before. But make sure the toys don’t talk or make noise – especially if they have Dora or her live-in boyfriend San Diego.
  3. Bring a portable DVD player, or even better an iPhone with lots of movies and preschool apps.
  4. Take a redeye flight. But don’t tell them that it’s a redeye flight because they might think zombies are on the plane.
  5. Bring plenty of snacks, and use Souplantation packaging whenever possible.
  6. Create an Art kit – tape, crayons, stickers and activity books – all with Princesses feeding unicorns near a Christmas tree on them.
  7. Convince why cats are evil and why people should never own one. 12-hours should be more than enough time to have some affect.
  8. Talk about how great it is that there’s a KFC in Paris and that’s only a few blocks away from where we’re staying! (I swear I didn’t plan that- it just magically happened that way.)
  9. Introduce “Where’s Waldo” books on the plane. Make up other stuff to find that isn’t there.
  10. Bring a Nintendo DSi – not for her, but to keep me occupied.

So tell me -- what tricks do you do when taking your kids on long trips?

Friday, April 03, 2009

How to Celebrate a 10-Year Wedding Anniversary Without a Coupon


It’s hard to believe that it was 10 years ago today that the wife and I were married on a perfect spring day, among friends and family, on the cliffs of Palos Verdes overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

I still remember just about every detail of that day right down to the feeling of seeing my wife-to-be walking down the aisle, to the decadent taste of the crushed chocolate peanut butter cup cake.
It all still seems like it was only yesterday, or maybe just a few years ago.

And how do you think we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary day? Maybe a candlelit dinner comes to mind? Or perhaps a Depeche Mode concert with a special intermission shout-out by Martin Gore yelling out “Happy Anniversary to ma’ mates!” pointing to us in the front row. Or maybe just a simple private jet ride to Catalina Island for an intimate dinner and a private movie screening of “Rambo” on the beach and then later parachuting back home softly tapping wine glasses while we float back down to earth landing on a freshly manicured lawn, near a bucket of KFC chicken.

If you guessed any of those you’d be wrong.

I had a tough day at work, as it was my boss’s last day with the company. My daughter picked up the pace of asking for an (evil) cat. My wife was sick and has 3 papers due next week (closer to that MBA.) So what do we do? We went to Souplantation -- my daughter’s favorite restaurant in the entire universe.
When I told the cashier it was our 10-year wedding anniversary she gave me a 15% discount. She said the AAA discount doesn’t work anymore, but she can still give it to friends and family (thank you Geneveva.)
On the upside, in addition to the discount, things weren’t all that bad. Souplantation wasn’t nearly as crazy as it usually is on a Friday night - no screaming babies, no kids running too fast through the buffet area, and no clam chowder with all of the clams fished out. And it’s ‘lemon month’ so the summer lemon salad and lemon cream pasta were both nothing to complain about.
In fact, if you replace Geneveva with Martin Gore, you can almost say it was like Martin gave me a 15% discount!

Or maybe not…

Oh well, it's my birthday Monday and I’m planning on paying a visit to KFC (my once every 6 weeks indulgence!) Oh yeah, and this will be our apartment’s view 2 weeks from today...

ce poulet est merveilleux!