Thursday, December 09, 2010

No Christmas for Chippy (The Squirrel) Because He’s Dead


Santa doesn’t need to buy him a gift this year.

Ever since my daughter was around 2-years old we’ve both called every squirrel Chippy. It doesn’t matter where we are, it could be 1 mile or even 1,000 miles away from home they’re all Chippy.
Chippy’s been one lucky little adrenaline hound over the years pulling stunts like jumping long distances from tree to tree, teasing cats and dogs, running on electricity lines, or sprinting into streets without looking both ways first. When riding in the car if my daughter were to see a squirrel running into traffic would she would always yell out “Watch out Chippy!” and then look back to see if he was all right. There’s been a whole lot of close calls but Chippy always seemed to get away just fine.

Today Chippy wasn’t so lucky.

While driving my daughter to school this morning Chippy decided to run down a tree in front of a large SUV, and just as my daughter yelled “Be careful…!” Chippy was moving in slow motion through the air, towards the front grill of my car.

Later, while hosing off the car in the driveway I had strange flashbacks of "the bunny incident" from 5 years ago. Difference is, that time my daughter was a baby and wasn't yelling ,“DIAL 911! DIAL 911!!” from the back seat and I wasn't explaining to her why squirrels don't have health insurance.


A Season of Giveaways!!


Continuing with the theme giveaways, this week’s is DISNEY TANGLED: The Video Game for Nintendo Wii (TM) from Disney Interactive Studios.


It’s a very fun action, puzzle, and collection game where you can play as either Rapunzel or Flynn Rider and from my own experience is appropriate for kids 5 and up. Once my daughter figured out the controls she was pretty much playing on her own most of the time.
Comment below with your email address or email me at the address above (U.S. residents only for this one) before 9PM Pacific December 13th – A winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Sure Isn’t What It Used To Be...AND a Giveaway!


Things began in good spirits when the wife and I eagerly attended our daughter’s 1st ever kindergarten school play a few days ago. We’ve been hearing about the event for weeks in bits and pieces but never in its entirety.
The theme was supposed to be all around Thanksgiving, at least that's what I thought…

It was a very artsy new-age performance of “autumn” and my daughter played a brown leaf; and for about 15-minutes she did a whole lot of interruptive dance with her class while they all recited strange lines such as "are you ready?", “flow with me”, “let’s fly birds, FLY”, and “hear the leaves crunch.” The finale couldn’t have come soon enough when all of the kids began moving in slow motion, in unison, while a woman played an Enya-eque inspired tune on a mini Casio keyboard just off stage. The kids then burst loudly into song of “Shoo Fly, Don’t bother me” and then fell on the floor just before the lights went out.

I started having flashbacks of my Art School college years.

Suddenly all of the parents stood up and applauded, some in tears. Some women in the front began hugging each other. I got up slowly clapping looking at the wife wondering if she saw the same performance as me.

What a far cry from my own elementary school days where all we did was dress up as pilgrims and indians for the day, made turkey hand’s, and maybe created some candles from egg cartons… just like the real pilgrims did.

I started wondering if this private school she’s going to was a bit too crazy. Does this school purposely shy away from anything remotely traditional? What do they have against Turkeys and Pilgrims? What if they’re trying to make her a vegetarian?
No kid of mine will ever be a vegetarian!!!

But then she came home with this today:
A sweet Thankful Turkey craft with feathers of all of the things she’s thankful for. It says things like “Family”, “Brother”, “Mommy Daddy”, and there’s a green one at the back of the post-it speech bubble that says:
“KFC”


A Season of Giveaways!!
For some time now I’ve been getting a whole lot of requests to do giveaways. Usually I shy away from them but thought why not try it out, introduce some interesting things, and give some ideas for Christmas gifts. Be on the look out for these the next few weeks...

This week’s giveaway is THE ROBOT BOOK from Accord Publishing. A cute and clever board book that actually has moving gears, cogs, nuts, and bolts and is appropriate for maybe ages 2 and up. Comment below with your email address or directly to me at the address above (U.S. residents only for this one) before 6PM Pacific November 26th – I’ll randomly choose 2 winners. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Houses With “Out of Control” Halloween Decorations


There was a time not long ago when all you really needed to celebrate a traditional centuries-old Halloween, like the way many past European Kings and Asian Emperors did, was to simply leave a decent pumpkin on the porch while playing classic holiday music like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Lionel Richie’s “Penny Lover.”

Those were the days when Halloween meant something. Things like “Peace on Earth” and “Girl, a love like yours is hard to resist.”

Not anymore.

Our neighborhood went downhill this year. The neighbor to the right of me spent 3 weeks building a graveyard and volcano in his yard and used his kids as non-union talent to scream at passing ‘trick or treaters.’ The poor kids didn’t even get to spend much time begging for candy themselves.
Not to be outdone, the other neighbor made a graveyard too but his with a whole series of pullies and levers, operated by his kids, moving all sort of things around with a theater grade smoke machine nearby and all sorts of theatrical lighting. Those kids didn’t get to go begging either.
The block down from us hung a large glowing spider web over their cul-de-sac and used several garage door openers, operated by their kids, as a motor system to make 3, 5-foot spiders (with glowing eyes) move up and down. Word around the neighborhood was that those kids didn’t go begging either.

The sad reality is, it’s the kids that suffer with this kind of nonsense.

I for one am not going to be partaking in any of it. My kids will be doing what kids have been doing for thousands of years since the inception of Halloween by the Great Pumpkin long ago: begging for candy so their parents can eat it. Period.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Kids Grow Up...Way Too Fast


I’m not sure exactly when it happened…

Maybe it was on the way home from my daughter’s ballet class last week after the teacher praised her advancement within the last few months, or maybe it was that one discussion we had at dinner about she being ready for a sleepover at one of her best friends’ house. Or maybe it happened when I was watching her in awe as she proudly performed in the school talent show last weekend in front of the entire school. Or maybe it was simply when I was backing up my entire iPhoto library scanning my daughter’s last 5 years - seeing every smile and funny face - that I finally realized that my little girl is no longer that little baby, or that attached toddler, or even that somewhat autonomous preschooler anymore.

She’s growing up way too fast and it’s downright depressing.

What made it more evident was seeing a documentary this past week called, “The Kids Grow Up” (more here) about a Dad documenting his daughters' life from the toddler years to just before college. In the film the Dad does a series of interviews with his daughter at various milestones usually at some very insightful moment. It felt strangely familiar and almost uncomfortable watching her life breeze by in a mere 90 minutes. It almost felt too close to reality and that was a bit disheartening.

Then my daughter runs up to me today out of breathe and says that she and her 5-month old baby brother were playing “hide and seek.” He was counting to 100 and was going to use his dragon to find her.

It’s those odd moments which make me look forward to what’s in store these coming years.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Annual Halloween Pumpkin Carving Ideas and Stencils!


My obsession with pumpkin carving started a few years ago when I created a masterpiece of a pumpkin featuring the one and only great American inventor of delicious fried chicken, Colonel Sanders. Every year I’ve tried to outdo myself but have never really come close.

Well, OK, maybe the Lionel Richie pumpkin last year came pretty close.

Below are the stencils I’ve created this year for all to enjoy. One is a request by my 5-year old daughter - can you guess which one?


(Click to download)

UFO in China (Run workers, run!)

Guitar Player Smashing a Guitar (In case you were wondering, he’s about to smash that pumpkin with his guitar.)

Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter (I read the very entertaining historical book over the summer and found it fitting for Halloween.)


Unicorn Pegasus (Add a double-rainbow for a truly magical experience.)

Prior years stencils can be found here and here.

These stencils are free to use, but please don’t redistribute. Also for those looking for a good carving kit, I completely recommend using a Pumpkin Masters set. Go pick one up from one of those dollar stores.

Happy Carving!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Preparing for the First Day of Kindergarten


My daughter started her first day of kindergarten today. I was expecting crying, maybe some anxiety, and maybe even some nervousness. But alas, none of it. Instead my daughter woke up, dressed up in her laid-out-last-night school uniform, grabbed her prepared-the-previous-night lunch and said to me: “Let’s pretend I’m 18 and moving away to college, OK?!

Let’s not. Apparently our recent college-bound babysitter has helped shaped her thinking just a little and now she can’t wait to move out of the house.

While driving up to the school a few kids were dealing with some major separation anxiety - holding onto their parents for dear life and such. Mine on the other hand asked if we could open the door and drop her off “right here.”

I don’t get it. Where's the tears? I'm expecting tears!!!

Yesterday the school had a kindergarten picnic allowing the kids to get to know each other with ice cream, a playground and…(wait for it…)... Kentucky Fried Chicken! Can I just say how much I love this school my daughter is going to? I didn’t even have to request it, it just happened on its own. It’s like a message from heaven or something saying, “Tony, you chose well. Now sit back and enjoy your popcorn chicken.” It almost makes me forget how much we're paying in tuition.

Well, not really.

Anyhow some pointers from me and maybe the school on making the day easier. We used some of them and I thought I’d share them for those who are interested:


How to Prepare Your Child for the First Day of Kindergarten
  • Talk about kindergarten casually during the summer. Try borrowing a book from the library to help reinforce the big day, or better yet rent "Kindergarten Cop." Just fast-forward over the parts where that one weird kid uses the word "vagina" and "penis."
  • If your child wasn’t in preschool, try leaving them with a friend or relative for a few hours while you go out for sushi to help with the possible separation anxiety. If the child is upset that you went out to eat without him/her, just say "you don't like sushi anyway."
  • Attend the school’s social “meet and greet” or similar activity before the start of kindergarten. They’ll get a chance to meet new friends before school starts and hopefully the school will provide Kentucky Fried Chicken. If not, protest to the school board until they make it happen.
  • Say goodbye quick and then leave. Don’t draw it out too long, get all emotional and cry. If your mascara runs down your face the other kids might think you're a vampire.
And most importantly...!
  • Teach them how to wash their hands correctly after using the bathroom. Use this coloring page to help emphasize the importance.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease hurts!
Wash your hand after using the potty.


I'm just hoping she doesn't bring home any diseases. Because that would mean this coloring page didn't work.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Those Kids Entering College


Our babysitter of the last 5 years is going off to college this week. It’s strange because in some odd way it feels as if my own kid is going off to school; we’ve known her and her family for years.

My daughter was pretty upset about it for a few weeks but finally moved into the “acceptance” phase when she created some artwork for our college-bound sitter this past weekend for her to display in her new dorm room.
I wished I had taken a picture of it, as I do with most of her artwork, but it’s basically a picture of a dolphin with an ice cream cone waving with its friends saying, “See you at Thanksgiving!” And they’re all wearing pink pilgrim hats and necklaces.
The dolphin is supposed to be a self-portrait as my daughter is still planning on becoming a dolphin when she grows up. In fact, when I ask her what college has a dolphin major she just answers matter-of-factually with, “(duh!) Any college in Hawaii.”

At our sitters going away to college party with a few of her friends and family, the adults started talking about how strange it is that these kids were all born in 1992, which is a bit disturbing because that doesn’t seem that long ago at all.
In fact, I still have perfectly usable clothes in my closet that are from circa 1992. My wife might find the term “usable” debatable, but I beg to differ.

This time of year I always find that the annual Beliot Mindset list highly informative. Basically that’s the yearly list reminding adults how young these kids actually are and how old we have gotten in such a short amount of time. Here are some interesting tidbits from it, with of course some of my own commentary added here and there.

A Few Interesting Facts About the Class of 2014
  1. Korean made Hyundai cars actually work now as opposed to being broken down on the side of the road. I still wouldn’t buy one as I use to own a 1989 Excel that loved to break down.
  2. Yugo? What’s that?
  3. They’ve never written in cursive. I just tried now and still remember. Now I trying to think when they last time I've actually used it...
  4. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
  5. They use cell phones to tell them the time, no need for a wristwatch.
  6. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.
  7. Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station.
  8. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
  9. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
  10. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
  11. Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as horrible movies. The only exemption: the Brady Bunch movie.
Some Sourced from Beloit College Mindset List

What other things can you think of?

Friday, August 06, 2010

5 Years of Creative-Type Dad!


It’s been 5 years since this blog was created. As I write this everything around me is reminiscent of those first days: I’m up late at night right as my now nearly 3-month-old son won’t fall asleep and wondering if he’ll ever understand that nighttime is for sleeping. I’ve seen some pretty scary diapers tonight that would make any grown-man cry and I’m now beginning to wonder if he’s been sneaking in chilidogs and beers between breast feedings.
Unlike those earlier days, this time around I do feel a little wiser, confidant, and more experienced with some idea of the road ahead.

When I began this blog it was filled with random thoughts of things I ran into on the Internet, but it quickly evolved as my now 5-year-old daughter began to grow. Then it turned into tidbits of my excursion through parenthood. Now that my daughter is starting to read and seems to be picking it up pretty quick, I’m now faced with that question that other fellow parent bloggers have contemplated over the years, “how long do I keep this up?”

I don’t know.

Since Twitter and Facebook updates seem to have now taken over with their quirky sometimes-impersonal one-liners blogs overall seem to be on a downward trend. I’ve considered moving this blog to those formats but overwhelming still prefer my anonymous presence on those things instead. I do enjoy Facebook games; I don’t enjoy the drama of old acquaintances contacting me, knowing about the personal lives of co-workers and family, and especially using broad “status updates” instead of one-on-one interactions as a legitimate replacement for building friendships.
I still have a feeling Twitter and Facebook will lose their novelty within another few years and something else will eventually replace them.
I know things aren’t the same as they once were when I started or even two years ago, but I do feel an obligation to write something about my son’s journey as I did my daughters. If anything, a blog is still a good way to journal those experiences.

Some favorite posts throughout the years:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stop Growing Up!


(It's that time of year! My annual letter to my daughter on her birthday...)

Happy 5th birthday Miss Bean!
Or as you call yourself, “Sunshine Sparkles!” followed with hands in the air.
Where has the time gone? How can you be 5 already when it seems as if you were just born a year or two ago?


Just a few things you did this past year that I’m going to remember forever:
  • Telling your preschool friends and random strangers that I got into a fight with a chicken, that’s how I got chicken pox.
  • Announcing to the crowd at preschool graduation that you don’t want to be a ballerina when you grow up because you want to be a dolphin instead.
  • Your imaginary sisters Sauna and Nana now live at Disney World and we MUST go visit them every weekend because it's their birthday again.
  • On the way home from preschool telling me you got married to Marcus at school because he can breakdance. And then me explaining for an hour why you can’t date until your married.
  • Learning about Baseball at preschool and then begging to go to a game really bad. When we had gone you said, “Daddy, this is really boring, why don’t they do anything!” Yes, you are truly my daughter.

Your favorite things at this moment:
  • Everything about your baby brother, especially his farts which seems to go on forever.
  • Going to the movie theater to watch 3D movies and then half-way through asking me to put in a different DVD.
  • Tea Parties with your stuffed animals in your restaurant and then asking some animals to leave for misbehaving or bad manners.
  • Excitement over starting Kindergarten in the Fall and meeting “even more” friends.
  • Making up all sorts of crafts and art projects, and making up your own songs and lyrics.
  • Ballet dancing to Disco. Preferably to the Bee-Gee’s.
  • Playing Wii together and actually getting good at it.
  • Eating at restaurants, especially Souplantation (still!)
  • Swimming and spending a lot of time at the pool this summer. I suspect this is training to be a dolphin.

On the morning of your birthday I’m always going to remember the first thing you said to your mother and I while running into our room “when I was sleeping, I felt my body growing so I can be 5-years old!”
I’m going to miss the fun we had together at 4, but I’m looking forward to what new memories we’ll make together when your 5.

Love,
Daddy

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Should Parents Vaccinate? Yes!


These last two weeks have been quite an emotional roller-coaster.

Not only did I not get to see my kids for nearly two weeks, and endure endless pain of burning boils all over my body including in my nose, ears, mouth and throat during the infection, but one major outcome of the Chicken Pox caused me to lose nearly 80% of my hearing.

Those days had to be the most frightening experience in my life. Losing the ability to hear is something I hope nobody ever has to encounter.

Thankfully with a persistent doctor, some (painful) treatments, and medication I was able to finally get most of it back just a few days ago. The only problems remaining are some equilibrium issues, irritation of the ears, and some liver issues, which I’m now told should likely mend in a few weeks.

And I still have some weird red spots on my face that make me look a little “zombie-like” that aren’t fading as fast as I’d like, but I’m not bothered about that as much as I’m extremely thankful to not have burning boils (adult pox burn, they don’t itch) and have gotten most of my hearing back.

So a reminder for those who have never had Chicken Pox, please go get the varicella vaccine. As an adult gets older Chicken Pox can cause a whole host of complications including hearing loss, respiratory problems, bacterial skin rash, internal organ problems, inflammation of the brain, and even death. In pregnant women it can cause some serious birth defects.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my doctor, an ID (infectious disease) specialist, and the doctors at the ER and I’m completely convinced vaccinations are a necessary bit for preventing life-threatening diseases. In fact, I just recently received some re-vaccinations and boosters after getting some blood work done to determine which ones I needed, as like most people, I haven’t had anything since I was a young kid nearly 30 years ago. Some vaccinations need to be updated every 10-20 years.

I finally returned to work 3 days ago after being out for over 3 weeks, with some red spots remaining, and got into a heated argument with a woman who just refuses to vaccinate her children – 4 and 7 – because she thinks they cause autism even though study, after study, after study, disproves that, but yet there are parents like her out there that continue to believe that.

I told her that I felt sorry for her kids.

One fact that the ID specialist said to me that stuck in my head was that in 1900 the average age of death in the U.S. was 47 and 30% of infants died before reaching their 1st birthday (ref). Imagine having a baby and knowing there's a 30% chance that he/she may die within the first year? And did you know a lot of people didn't even name their child until after their first year? (ref.) Frightening stuff.
Control of infectious diseases is a huge achievement and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Bittersweet Father's Day


I’m back. Did I miss anything? You're sure not going to believe what I’ve been through especially in the last week and a half…

First of all, Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dad’s that do make a difference in their kids lives. Father’s are more important than ever these days and make a huge impact on children’s well-being, abilities, achievements, social behavior, and character among others. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have a few men in my own life. Shining examples of Fatherhood that made a huge impact on me countless times, some still, and have now shaped the way I Father my own kids. My Dad, grandfather Marci, best-friend Steve’s Dad Kurt, best-friend Mike’s Dad Joe, and longtime childhood friend Sharm’s Dad Moy – from me a whole-hearted “Happy Father’s Dad” and “Thank You!” These guys deserve more than a medal and the last few deserve grandkids, as they’ll make amazing grandfathers.

Now the tough part…

A warning before moving on: I’m going to get a little detailed here for those looking for information on this disease as it may help others.

Over a week ago I was in Denver for work and discovered something strange on my scalp the morning I left; a few large bumps that hurt when touched. When I got home that night I felt nauseous and went straight to bed around 5pm. The next day I woke up feeling nauseous, like a hangover, and my wife discovered weird boils on my forehead and behind my ears. Later that night a few boils started showing up on my chest and I lost my appetite. That night I couldn’t sleep and moved into the spare room as our newborn is sleeping in a bassinet near our bed.
It was really hard sleeping that night feeling nausea, feverish, and irritated. When I woke up around 3am my face had swollen and more boils had appeared on my face, chest, and neck – around 20-30 maybe.
The next morning I was the first at the urgent care and 3 doctors had to evaluate me, as they could not figure out what it was. I was prescribed some antibiotics, cultured, and blood was taken. Later that day I got even worse, I couldn’t stand up in which I got a callback from a nearly 30 year practicing infectious disease specialist that saw me and diagnosed me with Chicken Pox, something he hadn’t seen in an adult in a few years.
So that next morning, my head literally felt like it was on fire. I lost most of my hearing in both ears, my fever was 103, and I won’t even go into detail about the number and size of boils on my face, scalp, neck, chest, arms, legs, and ears. Things got better at the ER. They were able to get the fever down, I wasn’t feeling as nauseous, and the Vicodin greatly helped with the extreme pain.
To my doctor’s credit, when I returned home, he called nearly every 5-6 hours checking up on me. He even contacted my kids’ pediatrician at diagnosis and was rightly concerned about having a 3-week old newborn that can’t be vaccinated with this vaccine until he’s at least 10-weeks old. My wife had been vaccinated while in college and is breast-feeding, which evidently sustains the baby. We’ll find out and I’ve been away from him in isolation and they’re monitoring him nearly daily just to be sure. That’s the part that’s keeping me up at night these days. We won’t know if he has it until another 2 weeks or so.

A thing about Chicken Pox, it can be fatal for adults and is now rare because of a vaccine that was developed back in 1995. Problem is I was getting out of college in 95 and every single doctor I’ve seen in the last 15 years never asked “Have you had Chicken Pox?” The ER doctors told me that it’s assumed that if you’re over 32 years old (I’m older) that you have had the mild form of childhood Chicken Pox.
If you’re reading this and have never had Chicken Pox, I’m begging you PLEASE go get the varicella vaccine.

The toughest part about this whole experience is knowing that it was completely avoidable and now I’m hoping more than ever that my newborn doesn’t get it. Especially with all he’s been through already.

Friday, May 28, 2010

An Incredible Day Followed by Some of the Worst of My Life


My baby boy is here! He was born last Wednesday at a whopping 10 pounds and 3 ounces, for my international readers I think that translates to about 4.6 million kilograms.

Thankfully there was no bumping of anybody’s head. Through a strange series of events, my daughter brought home a mean stomach bug virus from preschool, which then passed to my wife and then me. Well, that stomach bug got the party started and induced my wife into labor that morning.
So for those full-term pregnant looking for some advice on how to induce labor, go hang out at a preschool.

I was actually surprised at how much faster the whole second experience took place. Labor was about 7 hours and the real “active” labor was less than two hours.
A woman we ran into today told us “That’s FAST! I was in labor for 7 days and 98 hours.” Somehow I didn’t believe her because she was pushing a dog in a stroller. People that push animal’s in strollers need serious help.

One very important fact I have to mention about the birth center we chose – it’s 1 block away from a KFC. YES! Can you believe it? Talk about convenience.

When my wife was in labor (regular, not “active”) we walked down there to get some popcorn chicken for lunch. I initially ordered one box, but then I told the woman that my wife was in labor right now so we’ll take two boxes. At first she didn’t believe me and then she looked at my wife breathing heavily, holding her back, etc.
While we were waiting I told my wife jokingly “Hey! Wouldn’t it be funny if you had the baby right now… in the KFC!”

She didn’t think that was funny. I think it was because she was in labor.

I won’t go into details about the actual birth except that we had him at a birthing center, not a hospital, with two midwives and a doula. He was initially going to be born in a tub, just like our daughter was, but because of his size he was delivered on some crazy thing called a birthing stool. I’m not even going to describe this thing, just use your imagination about how women gave birth maybe pre-1800’s. I would have much preferred the tub because birth is really messy business.
My bit of advice for those choosing a midwife or home birth – have the baby in the tub or bring some extra clothes.

Something I have to mention before moving on here about the whole events and something only parents that have gone through the experience will fully understand:
There’s nothing in this world that comes even close to meeting your child for the very first time. Feeling the bumps, the kicks, and talking to this mysterious little creature that grows in just 40 short weeks into a full-fledge baby is just something that is truly remarkable. The first time my son, and daughter nearly 5 years ago, looked back at me with their eyes and examined my face are some of moments that I’ll always remember.

So imagine my reaction 4 days later when his pediatrician told us that we needed to immediately rush our newborn son to the pediatric hospital because something call bilirubin had nearly doubled in his body in 12 hours. When we arrived they were waiting for us and put him in one of these hooked up in it for the next 3 days--


What even worse was staring at him in there while the doctor was telling us all kinds of information about it. I zoned out the entire time. The paperwork in our hands said something about a blood transfusion if they couldn’t stop it.

We didn’t tell most about what was going on, only a few close friends and family that had happen to call at the time by coincidence. But those who did helped us considerably during what had to be the worse days of our lives. To them we’ll always be forever grateful.

Thankfully he was finally able to come home this week. His numbers improved considerably and we had a little celebration with our daughter, unfortunately with no KFC present. We go in once again tomorrow for what we’re hoping to be his clean bill of health and then we can go on with our lives watching him grow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Inducing Labor. Because 40 Weeks is a Long, Long Time.



My wife is now 39 weeks pregnant and we’re told she’s ready to deliver at any time.

I forgot how stressful this “final stretch” was last time around nearly 5 years ago with our daughter.
Not being able to leave my wife for long or sleep at night as every move, ache, or whatever move she makes has me jumping up like an earthquake just struck. The uneasy feeling I get when she uses the bathroom for more than 3 minutes (“Is she having the baby in the bathroom; I think that can happen?”)
The stories I hear from random women at the gym or work that say things like, “I have this friend who went into labor and delivered a baby all within 5 minutes!”
And to top it all off, my 4-year old asked me today “Daddy, how is my baby brother getting out of mommy’s belly?” To which I answered matter-of-factly “Why, the birth canal, silly kid!” (ruffled her hair) followed by an uncomfortable laugh and then changed the subject quickly by asking her if she wanted ice cream.

We’ve had lots of ice cream this weekend.

Of course our midwife has given us a list of things that help induce labor naturally like: eating spicy food, go for a long walk, use primrose oil, stimulate the “nickels”, and having sex. All sound like a pretty good date night, doesn’t it?

Except the part knowing that there’s your baby’s head right down there!!

Tomorrow we’re going to a restaurant out here in L.A. (Caioti Pizza CafĂ©) that’s famous for having a special salad that makes women into labor. We tried it first time around years ago and it didn’t work. But we did get to write a funny letter in one of their pregnancy journals – something of a tradition they have there. We’re going to look at what we wrote years ago, write something again, and then try out the “The Salad” one more time.

In the journal maybe I’ll write something like, “your big sister had lots of ice cream this weekend and if this salad doesn't work I’m REALLY sorry if I bumped your head.”

Friday, May 07, 2010

Last Minute Mother’s Day Ideas!


I asked my daughter what she wanted do for my wife this year for Mother’s Day and she immediately answered with:

“Go shopping to buy me an Ariel dress! And maybe mommy can get one too.”

We did something a little different this year; she’s been practicing her “Pegasus unicorn running into a rainbow” art for a few weeks, maybe months, now so I had one of the better ones put on a shirt from this place (poloppo.com)

It's pretty awesome. (What’s even more awesome is a discount code “dads25”.)
When we got it in the mail my daughter instantly requested one for herself and her friends at school as they've starting a Pegasus Unicorn Team now - it's an alternative to the Dragon Team the boys at school have started.

We’ve also been contemplating what else my daughter wants to make for Mother's Day. Maybe some cool and funny Mother’s Day themed snack from a recipe off this site (link), or one of these interesting cards (link.) I’m sure we’ll come up with something once I suspiciously tell my wife to go get a pedicure or go on a trip to the nearby KFC on Saturday so we can make anything.

We'll see...

But for those looking for a last-minute idea on what to get your wife or mom on Sunday AND really impress her, there’s always my famous flower bunch toting Lionel Richie printable with complementary Lionel Richie paper craft sculpture:

"You're once, Twice, Three Times A Lady. Happy Mother's Day!"

Lionel Richie Paper craft toy

Because really, nothing says Happy Mother’s Day quite like “You’re Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady” from Lionel.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman


My wife is now 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant as of today which means we’re in full preparedness mode. I know this detailed information because of an awesome iPhone app for Men with pregnant wives.
The car seat is ready, the birthing kit is always with us, the midwife is on our cell phones speed dial, and I can boil water within 2 minutes.

I’m actually not sure what the point of hot water is anyway, but whatever, I’m prepared if the need should ever arise.

This part of the pregnancy that I remember the least with our daughter the first time around, as I was too busy worrying about my wife and the birthing part going well. This time I know what to expect and I'm fully prepared (I hope!) This whole pregnancy thing just amazes me to no end.

What amazes me even more is the weird and almost rude things people say to pregnant women in general. Not sure if they’re trying to be nice or sympathetic, but here’s a list of things heard that nobody should say:

Never tell a pregnant woman…
  • Are you pregnant?
  • You must have had a big lunch!
  • Whoa! You look like you’re going to bust at any minute.
  • Are you sure you’re not carrying twins/triplets?
  • Can I rub your belly for luck?
  • (Rub belly without asking)
  • Does your back hurt? Yeah, I woke up this morning and mine hurts too.
  • You waddle like a duck.
  • You’re all puffy just like the stay-puff marshmallow man.
  • I have dogs/cats so I know exactly what it’s like to be a new parent.
  • Did you hear about the woman that had a 30-pound baby last week?
  • You look normal from the back.
If you say any one of these then you deserve to get knocked over the head with a rolling pin.

What weird things have you heard?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Explaining Taxes to Kids


Today, “tax day”, has to be my absolute least favorite day of the year.

I’ve loathed taxes since the late 80’s when I was around 16 years old. That’s the time when I got my first minimum wage paycheck after working nearly two weeks straight one summer.
I still remember that mysterious sealed blank white envelope. I ran home, smelled it, tore the thing open in excitement, held the magical piece of paper in the air in the direction of the sun to see the beautiful watermark (“Official Document”) only to be completely traumatized at how much the government and something called “FICA” took out. The check was less than $17.

That was the first day I truly swore. Not for minutes, but for days. Nothing cheered me up, not even my newly acquired Depeche Mode 101 CD.

Then being the good kid that I was, I listened to my great-grandmother (she lived through the great depression) and opened a savings account getting a paltry .002% interest rate. Honestly I think I had a better chance earning more by planting pennies in the ground and praying for rain on a leap year.
Given the unfortunate circumstances, I still somehow happened to earn something like $5 that year. And then months later I got something called a 1099 telling me that I was subject to taxes on the $5 bucks that I earned. That’s the year I started lending money to kids on the playground and charging a 30% interest with a pre-payment penalty "off-the-books." I didn’t ask for that life, taxes made me do it.

Yes, my contempt for taxes started early.

Please don’t try to tell me why taxes are good because you’ll be wrong. I’ve heard just about every reason why taxes are a respectable thing, “how are we going to pay for the sun?” “Taxes! That’s how!”
Honestly, at this point. I really don’t care. Ask me that when I’m all pale and begging, “I need sun! I need sun!” Maybe I’ll care then, but right now if I were on Facebook for real, I would be no fan of the IRS.

If I ever do get the opportunity to start my own country (the one with a planned KFC franchise on it) the first thing I would order, besides a double-down, is not to tax everything in the world. I would be a fair dictator and just tax the things I’m not fond of, like, Kevin Costner movies and Justin Bieber.

Tonight, while writing a check to pay even more taxes my daughter asked me, “Daddy? Why are you crying?” I replied, “Because if I don’t pay even more taxes, these really bad people called ‘the IRS’ will send me to Guantanamo Bay.”

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

If Age Doesn’t Kill Me, This Will...


There’s just nothing that beats going into work and getting a surprise KFC lunch buffet birthday party by my co-workers.

And knowing the Kentucky Fried traditionalist that I am, none of this “grilled chicken” business was even on the table. Yes, these people know me well. Nothing but the Colonel's own invention's of extra-crispy, original, popcorn chicken (in little theater popcorn buckets), and a birthday candle planted in mash potatoes on top of a bucket of chicken - just the way they still celebrate birthdays in Kentucky and maybe central Ohio.
What more you say can a guy ask for?

How about the best birthday gift ever created:

KFC Double Down

2 original recipe fillets, swiss and pepper jack cheese, Colonel’s sauce , and (mouth-watering about now)…. Bacon!

I wouldn’t wait in line for an iPad, but I’m sure going to be waiting outside KFC Monday for this piece of heaven.
And then the rest of the year I'll be on a diet of just grapefruit, lettuce, and rocks just so I can eat another Double-Down next year.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Getting Rid of a Family Member...


We didn’t actually get rid of a real human family member.

Although now that I think about it, there are a few in my family that I wouldn’t mind getting rid of... but that’s a topic I’ll save for some other day.

This weekend I got rid of my wife’s, and daughter’s beloved cute little red and white top MINI Cooper. After a storm of expensive repairs the past 6 months, including replacing the entire engine 4 months ago (at my wife’s request to “save” the car) the transmission was on the verge of falling out and possibly exploding into a million pieces.
When they told me how much it would cost to repair I turned and told the wife in a harsh but loving voice, “(woman) we’re getting rid of that car tonight, even if it’s the last thing I do!”

Then I growled. I think.

If you had seen the reactions of my wife and daughter, you’d think I told them I was shooting the family dog on the lawn during a birthday party and then drinking its blood for sheer sport.

Trust me, I was tempted after all of the money we've poured into it.

On our first dealer visit my daughter had tears in her eyes. And then she discovered the little buttons and “secret” compartments in the new cars. Then she was over the little red car, ready to move on and start stashing toys, candy, and crayons into those magical compartments.

The wife wasn’t so easy. The MINI was her car. She dreamed about it. She ordered it online just before we got pregnant, was given a production number through the dealer, and tracked its 6-month build progress in Oxford, England, and then tracked its boat ride all the way to California. Yes, it was a strange family car for nearly 5 years (I still remember the looks that we got taking an infant car seat out of it) but it all worked out just fine. And now I was the bad guy because the pieces that make it go are made out of Lego’s and bubblegum.

When the car dealer appraiser was looking at the MINI making small chitchat he asked my daughter pleasantly, “are you sad about your cute little car going away?”
Then she replied “yeah, but it’s always breaking so my daddy wants to get rid of it.”

On the second visit I made my wife and daughter stay in the car.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Help! My Wife is Pregnant and Nesting, Again


I can’t help but to feel a little bad for my wife, or any woman pregnant, “with child.”

At 30 weeks she’s saying the strangest things, “how did this happen?” Can’t walk into a store without the belly bumping into things “did they shrink these aisles??” “Where did that jar/display/kid/truck come from?” And I feel bad having her walk anywhere since she has to lean backwards to move and sort of waddle. I want to attach a little wheel to the belly to help her get around.

I mentioned that once joking and she didn’t talk to me for 2 days. It’s been so long since our first daughter was born that I forgot pregnant women don’t like to joke around.
Unless, of course, you’re accidently shot in the head for saying such things - then it’s funnier than Sandra Bullock with a southern accent.

The best thing for any loving husband, like myself, to do is just smile and say things like “yes” to just about everything and don’t question the weird “nesting” home improvement requests like tree removals, garage storage racks, painting the entire house, planting an orange tree, change the brakes on the car, and other irrelevant things.

Yup, I’m just taking it all in trying to enjoy the baby kicks, a glowing stunning wife, the ultrasounds, an eager 4-year-old that can’t wait to be a big sister, and the anticipation of going through whole birthing experience one more time. There really is nothing in the world that even comes close to the birth of your child.

Besides, I can always joke about the weird things she (we) did later.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Weird questions? I’ve Got Answers


Some of the searches that end up here are getting stranger by the day.
Most of them are in the form of questions looking for help or expert advice. I find it odd that they end up here since the closest thing I have to a Ph.D is a DVD or BVD’s.

However, these people are looking for answers so I’m going to respond to them. Why? Because that’s just how I roll.

The Questions:
what is lionel richie doing this year for thanksgiving? – Let me ask. Spending it at Dollywood.
ideas for writing birthday invitations for a party at chuck e cheese Start with “I’m so sorry but, this wasn’t my idea…”
why does my dad stay up lateTo play Words with Friends on the iPhone. But not with Sci Fi Dad (because he cheats....!!)
why do we have butt cracksBecause they’re funny
do midgets have small poopLet me check. Yes.
where can i get a monkey to perform at my daughters birthday party? -- In Thailand or Lancaster.
i drank my wife's breast milk yesterdayHopefully because you ran out of regular milk and not because you like it and are just really weird.
my son doesn't have a date for prom? Put an ad on Craigslist
creative way to tell husband that you are expecting -- Don’t start it by saying “remember that business trip …”
when does a baby mullet grow?At 5 months, start playing Michael Bolton songs. At 6 months start showing Macgyver reruns or visit Georgia.
wierdest thing about lionel ritchie -- If his mustache is ever removed, he loses all magical powers.
what is it called if you have an obsession with poopPoopalicious.
my five year old who refuses to go to the potty! -- Take him/her back to the store for a refund.
i called poison control 4 times in one week what's going to happen to me Protective services should be arriving at your door any minute.
why do little kids pick their noses The same reason why old people do, because they're bored and have nothing to play with.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No, You STILL Can’t Have a Cat!


My daughter has been begging for a cat again. Apparently my excuses from last year (“Big Bird use to have a little brother, but cats ate him”, “Cats eat Fairies”…) have started to diminish in there effectiveness because she’s now prepared to risk the lives of both Big Bird and Fairies so she can have a cat.

That’s not good news for me, or Big Bird.

Somehow she just doesn’t understand that all cats secretly want to hurt and eventually kill people. Maybe it’s my fault for not speaking enough about the dangers and well-known fact that they’re all killing machines (click to view larger):
(Illustration credit to this guy)

So being a man of compromise, and a Dad who not only wants save his daughter from a carnivorous cat so she can live long enough to see her 5th birthday, I did what any other Dad would do.

I bought her an Ant Farm instead (The kind that glows with cool space-age gel! So cool…)


My wife wasn’t impressed because not only can’t you pet Ants, because they have no fur and aren't "cute", but these Ants sting when touched.

To which I replied “...it’s better to get stung than killed by a cat!”

Friday, February 12, 2010

FREE Last Minute Classroom Valentines That Provide a Service


While helping my daughter put together her classroom Valentines for school, I realized how unimportant and irrelevant the cards were: “Happy Valentines day”, “Bee My Valentine”, “It’s Valentines day!” They really don’t mean much and aren’t at all practical.

Why not give classroom Valentines that gives kids real useful advice; life skills that they can use today or when they get older.

I sure would have appreciated some good advice while in preschool.

So with that in mind, here are some useful Valentines Day cards I put together as a public service to all (click to print):

"The goal is to pay your credit card off each month - Happy Valentines Day!"
"Never attend anything that involves a timeshare or "business opportunity." - Happy Valentines Day!"
"Team Jacob or Team Edward? In 5 years it won't matter.
- Happy Valentines Day!"
"If Dad does like him, he must be wrong for you.- Happy Valentines Day!"

"Don’t visit Tijuana.- Happy Valentines Day!"
"Love is a battlefield.
- Happy Valentines Day!"
"Always wash your hands after using the bathroom or visiting any government building.
- Happy Valentines Day!"
"You should never drop it like it's hot.
- Happy Valentines Day!"


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

You Can’t Have a Boyfriend in Preschool



I knew something was strange when I picked up my daughter from school and as she was giggling hysterically. When I smiled and asked what was so funny - thinking I would get an answer like some silly picture she drew or maybe some game she had been playing - I didn’t expect to hear this:

Daughter: “Guess who I’m thinking of?”

Who? Ariel? Mommy? Daddy? …Lionel Richie?

Daughter: “MARCUS” (followed by her giggles and those of 3 friends)

“Marcus?” And they were all looking at the new boy in the corner of the room playing with Thomas trains COMPLETELY unaware of the groupies not far away.

Daughter: “He can BREAKDANCE!”

Friend #1: “Yeah! And we all like him like the way Gabrielle likes Troy!” (group giggles)

Whatchu-talkin’bout?!

Does anybody know of a cave I can live in with my family for about 18 years or so? Preferably one with no TV and no other preschoolers with parents that allowed them to watch High School Musical, iCarly, Hannah Montana, The Hills and maybe Twilight.

I just can't get over how kids this young watch these shows. They're watching things they don't understand and shouldn't be exposed to for at least another 25-30 years.

On the drive home my daughter and I had a long conversation about boys and how they should be considered yucky at her age, and about giving me a heart-attack before I turn 40; About having friends, staying a kid, and about how she isn’t allowed to date until she’s married.
You know, typical conversation material one usually has with a 4-year old.

I think she understood. But to be sure, I made her a coloring page just to reiterate my message:

"You can't date until you're married" coloring page

Once she's colored it, I'm hanging it on her cubby at school just as a reminder.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How To Answer The Question “Where Do Babies Come From?


Apparently my explanation to my 4-year old daughter a few weeks ago didn’t resonate completely with her:

“My seed, otherwise know as ‘sperma’ or haploid with 23 chromosomes, and mommy’s egg, also with 23 chromosomes met in the mommy’s womb and formed a diploid cell and after it fertilized a zygote was formed, which is basically a baby, and now you’ll be a big sister in a few months. Now go clean your room, brush your teeth, be nice to mommy, and don’t forget to wash your hands after using the bathroom. I love you.”

Today my daughter told my wife how her baby brother got into her belly:

“You ate a baby seed and now you need to eat healthy food like pizza and blueberries to feed it.”

And then she went onto explain –

“Joe’s mommy’s both have veh-hina’s and was born from both of them at Target.”

And then continued with—

“Can we go see the Chipmunks Squeakquel again?”

To which I jumped in and answered –

“No!!”
One time was more than enough. I still can’t believe how bad that movie was…

Have your kids ever asked you the “Where do babies come from” question? If so, how did you answer?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2010 Will Be Better!


December is finally over.

In 4 short weeks we’ve been through my wife’s graduation, a week at Disney World, a long in-law visit, our car (2005 MINI cooper) engine dying out of nowhere, 2 more family members losing their homes, and then sudden passing of one of my oldest and closest friends’ grandmother.

It’s been a very tough month.

Thankfully 2009 ended on something to be cheerful about, we had our first ultrasound last week and we’re having a BOY! Everything seems to be there, in working order and he’s growing just fine and is on target for spring. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have a girl and a boy. Although it would have been a little nice to have a boy first when we were younger to catch up to him, but hey I’m not complaining.
Ultrasound visits are always surreal. There’s just no way to even explain that ecstatic feeling of seeing your baby for the first time - even though he’s in black and white and looks like on some 1950’s submarine radar screen – just getting that glimpse is amazing. And then they switch to that 4D mode and then you’d swear that you’re living in the future (like in 2001), seeing things so clearly that we could count his fingers and toes.

On the way home with our daughter in the back talking about all of things she’s going to share with her baby brother and how nice she’s going to be to him forever (yes, I should have recorded it) the wife and I talked about how it’s been nearly 5 years since we went through all of this new baby stuff and how much we’ve forgotten in that short amount of time. Just the thought of diapers, night feedings, taking the stroller everywhere, getting kicked in the groin by the Baby Bjorn rider, diaper bag being dragged all over the place, and my ultimate fear: potty training – that alone just scares me all over again.

But then again this time around I have real world experience with child #1. I have my parenting skills down unlike before where everything was by trial and error. Lots of errors but trying my best and I think she's turning out just fine.

And unlike child #1, this will work on #2…


"Every time you poop in your pants, Elmo cries.
Don't make Elmo Cry!"