Monday, July 31, 2006

1st Blogiversary!

Exactly 1 year ago today I started this blog. And the funny thing is I didn't even realize it until I saw the month and date on the archives (to the right) a few days ago.

How different things are today, back then my daughter was only 3 weeks old, now she's a year and practically driving. I never planned on blogging -our friend Rick (a real writer) had asked if I could help him setup his - I set up my own to see the process, fooled around a bit and thought I would try it out until I got bored with it. I originally wanted to write (if you can even call what I do "writing") about "art and design" stuff, maybe toss in some interesting links, but as time went on I found myself writing more about random everyday Dad stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love art and design, but being a Dad easily trumps all that.

In that time I've discovered other blogging parents (favorites to the right…and adding more all the time) who are in the same boat and now I kind of enjoy doing this. I honestly don't know why in the world anybody would be interested in reading this stuff (I'm sure all of us that blog feel the same way). Although looking back at old posts I think this might be an interesting read sometime in the future.

So to those silent "no comment" repeat visitors - Thanks for reading, maybe one day you'll leave a comment. And for those few that do and shoot me the occasional email, Thanks!

A few of my favorite posts over the year:
Confessions of a bunny killer... :(
Baby Bjorns (Carriers) aren't daddy friendly
Real estate agents scare me
Guy in a chicken suit
Baby Mullets and other Cross-Over Hairstyles
Pet-Parents and Human-Parents
The Elvis Impersonator Was Late to My Daughter’s 1st Birthday Party

Friday, July 28, 2006

What? Chef Boyardee isn’t a real Chef…

I’m a horrible cook. And the sad thing is my Dad use to cook pretty well, and a whole lot better than my Mom (he could even install ceramic tile and change a car’s timing belt- at the same time!) My family had high hopes for me; thinking I would ‘inherit’ the knowledge threw some gene. But I was an artist through and through…even to the point of not really getting ‘sports’ (still don’t).
When I went off to college it was no wonder that I lost nearly 20 pounds in my first 2 months (I once heard it was suppose to be the other way around?). My grandmother thought I discovered crack, ‘Scooby snacks’ or worse…became a ‘vegan’! (BTW-she thought that was a cult) I didn’t. I just couldn’t make, or cook, anything. My grandmother even tried giving me canned food. But I just couldn’t get myself to eat that stuff. I tried SPAM for the first time when I was 19 and didn’t know what quite to make of it.
My diet consisted of Water, Cup-A-Noodles, Top Ramen, PB&J, Cookies, Fruity Pebbles, Capt’n Crunch (with Berries)… I didn’t have much cash (like the other kids in the schoolyard), so I didn’t eat out a lot.

But something miraculous happened, “Jack in the Box” (a fast food place out here) had a corporate PR scare at the time. They were thought to be using Kangaroo meat on some of their products and didn’t know (or tell) people about it until some undercover news exposed it. Jack in the Box became a ghost town; they even started using real meat again, but nobody showed up. Except me! They ran this promotion selling 3 deep-fried tacos for $1. AND 1 burger, 1 deep-fried taco, and fries for $1. I didn’t care if it was dog or monkey meat, anything deep-fried makes anything taste better.

What does this have to do with Chef Boyardee? Nothing.
Why are you writing about this? I’m not sure. It’s a blog for crying out loud.

BUT, A few points here:
1. If your kid is going off to college. Show them how to make something. In case you didn’t know, fast food isn’t healthy.
2. Besides the ‘art’ lessons I plan on giving my daughter (and 1 more future kid), I want to make sure they know how to cook and not judge Kangaroo meat too harshly. If it’s good enough for “them Aussie’s” then it’s good enough for me.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Frustrating Assembly of Children’s Toy’s

People who write instructions for plastic “Some Parent Assembly required” ride-on or whatever toys are evil. As a Dad (designer, man, guy, human) I have this innate ability not to read directions when going somewhere in an area I’m mostly familiar with ...arrive safely, and in good time. I can open a box of pretty much anything that needs assembly, minimally read the instructions (glance) and pretty much figure it out. I have learned this great skill from years and years of learning through experiences from my own father, my father’s father, and his father, and great-great grandfather good ol’ Benny Franklin (no we’re not related…I think).

But nothing can be more frustrating than assembling freakin’ plastic toys. They don’t have pictures (big mistake), the parts never fit right, and when I was recently assembling my daughter’s new Radio Flyer bouncy Pony (BTW- I didn’t buy it…I was ready to send it back to plastic ugly hell, but my wife insisted we keep it because it’s from her sister’s) I had to break out the heavy-duty hammer and the power tools bag because nothing fit right. And let me just say - When the power tools bag comes out from it’s resting place among the mountain, then you know you’ve made the gods angry.

I eventually got the thing together, an hour later, with some minor modifications - to make it “work”. In fact, I think it works better than originally intended. Too bad the thing is ugly and my daughter lost interest in it after 2 rides. Argh!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Teaching My 1-Year-Old To Draw

Last week, when my daughter made her 1-year-old visit to the pediatrician, they had mentioned in passing that now would be a great time to start introducing her to crayons and drawing. "What choo talkin' bout Willis?!"- My eyes popped out of my head, my hair stood up and I nearly jumped out of my pants when I heard this great and unexpected news. Being an artist myself, I just couldn't wait for the day that I could actually draw with my "my" daughter (hopefully teaching her all I know, if she's interested, of course...) I've been teaching on Saturday mornings to H.S. kids for over 3 years now and teaching them has made me figure out my teaching plan for my daughter (if, you know, she's interested of course..). I always thought we had to wait until she was 18-months- 2 years old to understand drawing. But if the doc says now, well then...I'm all for it! Doctor's orders!

Upon learning this happy information I went ahead and dug out some newsprint (smooth surface..) 4 primary color Crayola's (that have been anxiously awaiting this day) and tore small sheets of paper that could fit within her highchair (to keep her in place, concentrating on "the art").

"It" was time. And a sunbeam appeared from the window over her highchair. I got a little teary-eyed. It was time to bring in my student (I mean daughter).

She sat in place and rubbed the paper...
I then started making circles on the paper, and lines, and drew Spongebob...(babbles..)
I then slowly handed her the Crayon and held it in her hand, then guided it along the paper. She resisted. And shoved it in her mouth. (try again)
She tried to bite the Crayon like a cookie. I let her, hoping she wouldn't like the way it tasted and spit it out...(I had to check to make sure they're non-toxic again).
I tried again, this time letting her eat a crayon while I drew circles and lines. She took my Crayon (stared at it like it had 'magical' powers) and shoved it in her mouth too. I'm beginning to wonder what these things taste like...I don't know, cookies perhaps?

Eventually she started beating the wet Crayon against the paper and then realized she was making a mark. Then she threw them, crumbled the paper, and threw that at me.

She might not be ready just yet...

Monday, July 24, 2006

I Meme (Because I Don't Have Any Other Better Ideas)

O.K. so I saw this off Cynical Dad and now here's my list. The things I've personally 'done' (72 out of 150) in BOLD (with comments attached, of course).

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins (technically not really, the swarm I saw in New Zealand looked pretty scary when we got closer. I thought they were going to eat me...)
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid (In Las Vegas, it's called the Luxor. I think that counts for something)
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris (Not only visited, but that's where I met my wife)
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Off Palos Verdes, and it was pretty scary)
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise (Many times in college)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables (My wife grows 'em, and I eat 'em)
18. Touched an iceberg (Techically "glacier" and I licked it too)
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper (..and some really nasty ones too)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon (yes! In Napa Valley and it was amazing!)
22. Watched a meteor shower (A Leonids shower about 50 miles north of L.A. with a bunch of friends. It was Smurfy.)
23. Gotten drunk on champagne. (yup)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope (When I lived in Newport Beach, I had a cheap one and it didn't work very well)
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (yup, and usually my wife 'starts' it)
27. Had a food fight (Twice! Once in H.S. and got in big trouble, second at the Depeche Mode Violator concert in, I think 1989 or 90)
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can (In a cave, where nobody can hear you scream...)
32. Held a lamb (a 1 day old one In New Zealand and called it 'sheepy' until my wife took it away)
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (all the time, I dance like Elaine on Seinfield. Ok, maybe not that bad)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (A few hours of Sean Connery never hurt anyone)
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign (In H.S., some friends and I stole an "Open Trench" sign off a street and stuck it on the lawn of this hoochie's house)
46. Backpacked in Europe (traveled with one for "light-luggage", but didn't stay in hostels)
47. Taken a road-trip (many times)
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach (a few time when I lived at the beach)
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland (Only when Leprechaun 7 premieres)
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan (Yes! Not only visited but did work in Japan)
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds
57. Pretended to be a superhero (I'm pretending as I write)
58. Sung karaoke (I sing pretty well as Andy Gibb)
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers.
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater (I wish there were more today)
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites (Rome had to be the coolest ancient site)
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight (God No!!!)
72. Gotten married (over 7 years now)
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party (Kinda, O.K, yeah)
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days (Gone without Jack In The Box...same thing)
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest (A friend and I were Hooter's Waitresses, I was the Chrissy Snow on crack one...I went to Art School!)
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice (with this honey at the time, who is now my wife)
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage (Yeah, school performances)
85. Been to Las Vegas (many times over)
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark (Shark fin soup in Alhambra)
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently (My wife will argue no, but I say yes)
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children. (for a whole year so far)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge (Drove - it takes to long to walk and there's nothing on the other side. Not even Ice Cream)
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery (I now have the face of David Hasselhoff. I made that up)
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived.
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (BB gun..)
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery (not major but kind of)
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents (Only 4 so far)
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat (Somebody told me Jack in the Box used 'roo maybe I have?)
127. Eaten sushi (Like, every week)
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach (With my foot, and he "accidently" died)
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey (Cliff notes...same thing)
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office (H.S. ASB...)
140. Written your own computer language (I taught a computer "to love", not really)
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts (with lots of help)
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone's life (no, just took CPR classes, just in case I need to pull a Baywatch)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It’s Hot Outside! Even For Tom Jones

It’s not the scorching heat this weekend that we’re getting out here in L.A. (108) that I’ll remember in a year or 2, or 10 from now. Or even the loads of freelance that I need to get done by Monday. It’s the Tom Jones concert my wife and I went to last night at the Hollywood Bowlwhich absolutely rocked! If you’ve never seen him in concert, I HIGHLY recommend seeing him at least one time in your lifetime. You really don’t need to know any of his music to truly enjoy the show. This is my 6th time seeing him…. yes, 6 (4 in Las Vegas, and now 2 in L.A.) and the man can’t only sing, but is quite possibly the best entertainer alive (that I’ve ever seen).
What other concerts can you go and see underwear being flung, thrown, and catapulted onto the stage? Definitely at no Tom McGraw concert (I think they shoot into the air with their unchecked pistols - which can be very dangerous).

I remember the first time, 10 years ago, when I went to my first Tom Jones concert in Las Vegas; I thought I would be the youngest person there in a sea of vacationing senior citizens. That wasn’t the case al all, it was a mixture of really crazy old folks (the flapper kind with fading tattoos, big hair, and clothes with embedded glitter and stones), funky European 20-somethings, and other odd people like myself whose older uncles and grandmothers listened to him while growing up. While other grandmothers were listening to Perry Como, mine loved Dean Martin, Barry White, Tom Jones, and Rod Stewart. I never could get into Rod Stewartthat guy is a freak! Tom Jones, and the others are just plain cool.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Chicken in a Bucket

I'm not sure why it is, but I have this reputation among friends (and enemies) for having a strange fascination with KFC. And the funny thing is I hardly ever eat at the place.
In fact, there was a time I didn't even eat anything from KFC between 1993-2003. That's a LONG time (away from the 'secret recipe').

Until one day - before I went to my class to teach in 2003 - I had this strange craving for chicken strips and "the colonel" popped in my head saying something like "I make chicken right!" or whatever his catchphrase was in the 80's.
And there was that one time I "dragged" my wife along to KFC while in Kentucky (Cincinnati’s airport is in Kentucky -I'm not sure why? Something about Ohio...) just to take a picture holding a bucket.
And we have these friends who have pot-luck dinners on occasion, and I always bring "the bucket" - which might I add, is a very popular crowd pleaser.
But those are the only 3 occurrences.
Oh yeah, and there was last Halloween when I was looking for a Colonel Sanders costume for me and wanted to dress my daughter up as a chicken and put her in a KFC bucket.

Now I have this reputation of being some fried chicken peddler, because I think the idea of a colonel selling chicken in a bucket is funny. Who doesn't?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Letter to My Daughter’s Future Therapist in the Year 2024

Dear Therapist,

First of all, I hope I’m still alive. Or at least frozen at that cryogenetic lab chamber place somewhere in Riverside, California (you know, the same one Walt Disney is at too) that I specifically requested in my Will, written in blood. If not, please call my lawyer and have him serve subpoenas to my entire family, right away.

If my daughter is there, and has done something crazy, or illegal, such as robbing a bank, listening to the Beatles, cross-breeding a cat with a dog, repeats “Elvis works at 7-11” to strangers, claims Barry White as her paternal father, joined a “Trekkie” cult, etc. and is blaming me for her mistakes, I want you to understand why it may not be entirely my fault.

You see - Barry White really is her father. Have her talk to them. And her mother.

Thank you,

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Baby Proofing Intimidates My Dad Skills, and Design Sense

I think I need to go back to college or at least some handyman vocational school to baby-proof my house. My daughter has been “cruising” all over the place recently like some wall monkey. One second she’s babbling near my leg leg, the next she’s opening the knife drawer. We bought these stylish inconspicuous cupboard magnets called “Tot-Lok” to install on all the drawers (these puppies don’t come cheap either!) - I didn’t want ugly plastic things hanging around kitchen – these things are hidden and give the impression that we haven’t given into the bad-ugly baby stuff. Very important to me as a designer; because we know people (good people too) who have “given in” to the Fisher-Price’s home furnishing department…and quite frankly, I don’t want to go there.

My wife bought this stuff 3 weeks ago, and it’s still sitting on the counter. In a bag, with one package opened and half torn ripped, crumbled instructions. Have you seen these instructions? Take a look. I’ve read them 8 times and still don’t understand the paper-strip installation guide, let alone drilling 3/16 within some drill depth gauge, plunger (?)... What the heck?
Let me explain my "dad-skills" – I’ve installed ceiling fans, crown molding, surround sound with “millions and millions” of wires, toilet flow flush valve thing-a-ma-jig, freakin’ router with Wi-Fi security access (and that wasn’t easy!), but I can’t install a baby lock!! What’s wrong with this world?!
I called their specialist and he recommended hiring a professional installer. My response…

Me: You’re kidding me right…For baby locks?
“The Specialist”: Sir, just read the instructions, it's not hard.
Me: What? Now we’re married!?

(I didn't actually say the last part)

Right now we have rubber bands around the cupboard knobs. I think we used rope for entertainment cabinet. I won’t give in to Fisher-Price or plastic ugly least not until I figure out what the professional installers charge per hour…

Monday, July 17, 2006

Road Trip Wedding Weekend

We took our daughter on her first real road trip to San Francisco (technically Pal Alto, but it’s all the same to a SoCal people) over the weekend for a good friends wedding. We decided against the plane ride just because a summer road trip just sounded very “Americana”…you know, hook up the iPod and play really weird music, diner food, stop at some weird creepy truck stop in a place called Kettleman and some hippy walks up to you asking for “spare change” for pot (I mean “gas”). Yeah, it seemed nice in theory until we were actually driving and living it. We may just do the 45 minutes plane ride and ditch the 4 1/2 hour drive next time.
Our daughter did pretty well in the car; we thought she would sleep more, but staring at central California off the 5-freeway was more interesting (not sure why?) If you’ve ever driven the 5 through central California, there’s really nothing to see except farms, cows, and an occasional signs for Fresh Frozen Pies. The drive up the 101 is much more exciting –goes past the ocean a few times and also through “Little House on the Prairie/Bonanza” looking countryside --but the trip takes twice as long.

Palo Alto is a nice old country-looking place; this is only my 2nd real trip to the area, so that makes me an expert on the region now (well no, not really - 1 more trip though…). The place is “in the middle” of Silicon Valley, so you pass places like Cupertino (where Apple/Mac lives), and Yahoo!, Ebay, Paypal, and the hot shot places on the way up. So now a 2 bedroom, 1 bath 800 square foot house costs over a million dollars (not pesos, but hard American cash). So while that Google engineer might be making $135,000/year, he’s pretty much eating Top Ramen noodles from Costco, living with 4 roommates, in a 1-bedroom apartment near Stanford University. Poor guy, how can he possible survive!
My wife and I had fun looking at the home “luxury collection” magazine in our hotel room. Living in L.A. you get this sense that nothing can be more expensive, then you discover “the bay area”. Houses in the magazine started at 8 million and then capped at 19. These weren’t on a Beverly Hills, Palisades, Malibu, scale either. I'm convinced everybody in Palo Alto sells drugs, on the side, just to "make ends meet".

Our friend, Picalo, (not her real name, but it should be) had a dazzling wedding at some winery (that I forgot the name of already…Thomas something) high in the mountains of Woodside overlooking the entire South Bay. She moved up to S.F. about 4 years ago to work for some big clothing design firm in the city (She “did” Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s clothes before the chains dropped them…and she has some pretty good stories on “the monkey babies”…) After years and years of bad guys, she finally met “the one” and he couldn’t be more perfect for her. She’s been planning this wedding her whole life – and the entire wedding looked it. Very beautiful, and so much fun that it went by really fast. The best part was sitting at “that table” way back in the corner, you know the one that’s so loud that it should have it’s own zip code. Or maybe be moved closer to the kitchen (or in this case parking lot). We sat on our own island with all the other broken toys and loved it! My wife and I, and our circle friends are not stuffy people (we’re all artists and creatives for God sake! What do you expect?). But if our friend, bride Picalo, were sitting at a regular table, it more than likely would have been ours. All in all, we had a great time. Until we had to drive back down the 5-freeway again…

Happy Birthday David Hasselhoff!

The public may know him as "Mitch" or "Michael Knight", but to me he's simply known as "Secret Agent Man: The Man with the Angelic Voice". Feiern Sie Deutschland!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

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

(Instead of telling the story over and over, why not just write it down). Yes, Elvis was a little late to the party, actually about an hour and a half late. And in kid-time, that’s about 3 days. The natives were getting real restless, while waiting for the cake, games, a monkey on a tricycle blowing bubbles (?)…Anything at all, so they could pack their worn-down sugar-high kids into their minivans and SUV’s, then fall asleep on the way home. My wife and I had to quickly use the back-up plan games to stall before the “surprise entertainment” showed up.

Elvis was supposed to arrive at 1:15 with his assistant to set up the P.A. system, get dressed, etc. for a 2:00 cake singing performance. When 1:30 came rolling around, I started getting a little nervous (Traffic? Directions? Lost?…) but when 1:45 came and his performance time looking pretty late... I called his home number (the only number I had). Elvis answered the phone on the 8th ring and it went something like this…

( fumbling, hushing…breathing)

Me: Hello? ….Larry? I mean…Elvis?
Larry (aka Elvis): What’s Shakin’ Baby…
Me: Uh, yeah, I hope this is your cell phone and you’re lost….(anxious)…but your suppose to be performing in 15 minutes at my (yelling into cell) kids’ birthday party!!!!
Larry (aka Elvis): What?….I thought it was 7:30
Me: On a Sunday!!? We talked about this 3 times!!! Sunday, from 2 ‘til 3!!! We just talked on freakin’ Tuesday!!!
Larry (aka Elvis): oh shit!
(..fumbling…paper wrestling against phone, cat noise?)
Me: I’m paying you ***!!! You better get your @ss down here now!!! (blah, blah..blah…)
Larry (aka Elvis): I’m leaving Las Vegas….I mean Chino, now man…be there between 3-3:30…

(dog whimper,… something falling?)

In my mind all I could picture was this guy in this dingy old smelly 1970’s apartment building, in the middle of a beat-up neighborhood. Maybe with his broken mini-blinds closed, with the sun dust beams peaking through. Sitting in an old patched-up broken lazy-boy chair surrounded with beer cans, pork grinds, pizza boxes, streamers in hair, etc. Still in his stained, smelly Elvis jumpsuit. Possibly with “Wheel of Fortune” playing on the T.V, all fuzzy with clothes hanger “Rabbit Ears”….
I also heard my wife’s voice telling me that’s what I get for hiring an Elvis impersonator for our daughter's 1st birthday party (why not get a bouncer?)…who probably thinks he is Elvis…. and recreating his life.
I also heard my daughter sometime in the future (teenager?) calling me from some pay phone in Arizona, crying and telling me she got pregnant, and ran away with some truck driver, all because I hired some scary drugged-out Elvis impersonator for her first birthday…and it was my fault for everything she’s done (including wrecking my Mini Cooper).
Yes, that all went through my mind.

Thank God he showed up and the guy “looked” normal. Actually he’s some Welsh guy (Tom Jones is Welsh…how bad could he be?!) who is married with a 6-year old daughter and a homemaker wife. And the guy’s “day-job” is an accountant…. or anesthesiologist?
I wasn’t quite sure. Anyhow, it turns out…so far, I might be "O.K." at this father business after all.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The First Birthday Party!

My wife wasn’t kidding when she said to me late Sunday night, after the big party “I think you got a little carried away”. Yeah! I’ve been planning this for months now, and it wasn’t easy.
In my attempt to not have a “normal’ 1st birthday party, I got carried away with the "Hawaiian Luau" theme, booked our local Lake Clubhouse, invited over 100 people, had a local Hawaiian place cater, spent probably a small fortune recruiting our very talented “event decorator” friend Rosie for flowers and decorations, and then hired an “surprise” Elvis Impersonator to sing Happy Birthday to my daughter and then pelt out Blue Hawaii songs while serving up cake.

It all didn’t happen very smoothly, of course. Stalling with games while Elvis was about an hour and a half late (I don’t know, maybe a drinker like the real Elvis – He is an impersonator…) doing something else, maybe buying a Cadillac perhaps.
Thankfully, in the end it all came together - the kids and their parents had an equal amount of fun. I can’t even count the times we’ve been to kid’s parties and I know I’m not having much fun - I wanted to change that when my time came around.

“Why all the trouble for a first birthday party for something she won’t remember” – was the questions I got asked allot. Well, first of all, I’ll make sure she remembers it from me talking about so much. It’ll practically seem like she was there! (which she was, of course). Second, I had a deep conversation with my daughter (in babble, with occasional clear words of “Up” and “Dada” thrown in) and she told me she wanted either a flying butterfly Pony with sparkles or an Elvis impersonator at her first birthday. Or at least that’s what I heard.
Thirdly, the look my daughter kept giving Elvis was something I’ll always remember for the rest of my life – She didn’t really know what this guy was doing in a white gold-studded jumpsuit. It’s moments like that, that make it all worth it.

I came into work today with people asking me how in the world will I top this party next year. Truthfully, there probably won’t be anything like this one again until she gets married (hopefully in 25 years or more….). The next set of parties will be much smaller (few of her friends with some close family/friends), with whatever she chooses, and themed to whatever she’s into (except Dora, The Doodlebops, Jimmy “Ugly” Neutron, The Beatles, Brittany Spice-2010?)…But the first birthday, well the parent gets the honor of figuring out what that is.

Afterwards Elvis told me that this was the "first" kids birthday party he's ever worked. Then he left the building. On a butterfly Pony.

Monday, July 10, 2006

She’s “1” Today!

One year ago today my wife started getting the pains, we called the midwife, and she said “meet you in an hour”. I remember that drive to the birthing center like it was yesterday - My wife and I talking about how when we drive home again it’ll be with our new little one and how things will never be the same again, how the realization of “oh my God! We’re going to be parents now’, kicked-in and chats about this time next year she’ll be turning 1 and in 13 years, she’ll be a teen, and 18 she’ll be in college and we’ll be, like, 100 years old….
A few hours later she “finally decided to come out” and seeing her, holding her had to be the strangest feeling in the world. Inside mom, women just have this natural bond. As a Dad all you can do is talk through the belly and feel kicks. But that day you hold them, eyes looking at you…wow!

I remember so many parents telling us that the first year goes by really fast. So fast that you forget certain stages, and that they change almost daily. That’s funny, when you’re up at 2am, 4am and your house feels more like Denny’s than a home, you don’t quite feel like the first year is moving along fast enough.
It all happened gradually, sleeping more, laughing, trying to say words, standing, attempt at crawling, ninja-grabbing skills, finally being able to bottle feed - which for me, the first time doing that…was truly amazing – I still remember that “look” she gave me, like, “I don’t get it…where’s the boob? …You’re not mama”.
In retrospect it did go by fast, and now seeing her move along on her own, feeding herself, learning to use things, personal taste, her humor, etc. I always think to myself - how in the world can something develop and grow so much in just one year? I don’t get it, but she truly amazes me.

I had lunch with a longtime single-guy artist friend a few weeks ago, in conversation he was talking about how he doesn't see the benefits; parenting is changing diapers, listening to whines, life kind of stops and they aren’t able to do anything fun. It’s not something he could ever do because he’s too busy being creative. I told him this:

Me: “You know how when you create something (art, a film, painting, etc.) and you get that overwhelming satisfaction that 'one day' it premieres or finally shows.”

Him: “Yeah, of course!”

Me: “I get that feeling everyday now”

Friday, July 07, 2006

My Evil Twin Is 63 Years Old

I finally figured it out. Somewhere he’s out there, or at least some marketing list that says I’m around 63. Earlier this year I kept getting “join the AARP cult” letters (until I called them to leave me alone), last week I got “why aren’t you part of the American Legion for your service in ** war” invite letter (I’ve never been a member of the armed forces.) And yesterday I got some message on my answering machine from a crazy old smoker woman asking me to come out to Arkansas for the 45th high school reunion – That was going a little too far.
A Message to my evil twin – If I find you, only one will survive (insert Crouching Tiger music...with bamboo sticks)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

First Blood

So it happened yesterday. We were at our neighbor’s house for the big 4th of July BBQ, eating and snacking, with my daughter nearby as she was “cruising” along the furniture, as usual. Fell on her butt, as usual….BUT this time she let out her hurt cry, so I picked her up only to find blood all over her face, dress, and all the ground.
What do my wife and I do? Freak out of course! There’s nothing more horrific than seeing your infant crying and bleeding - I can’t even explain all the scary images that my mind conjured up (broken something?, Ambulance, Call 911, SIDS, Tumor,"oh God take me instead"..!!) .

Thankfully, when things settled and she was all cleaned up we found it was only a small cut on the upper lip cause by her chopping the jaw when she fell—her two bottom and only teeth went into her top gum/lip area. That would probably hurt any adult just the same; I can’t imagine what it’s like for her.
A little while later she had a fat lip (she looked like a baby Angelina Jolie), she was laughing, eating and “cruising” along again…with my wife and I really close by - I even considered padding her butt with TP like that toilet paper commercial from the 80’s – but that’s probably taking it a little too far. I don’t want to be one of those parents who buy’s their kid one of those “infant baby helmets” (that’s way too paranoid and just plain weird). But after going through something like this, I can see why they do it.
But as the other parents told us afterwards, “this is only the beginning of cuts, scrapes, bruises and bloodshed…get use to it”.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4th of July and “Illegal” Fireworks

First of all – Happy 4th!
4th of July has changed allot from the days when I was a kid that my daughter will likely never experience particularly block party BBQ’s and then lighting fireworks in the street. Where we live (and the vast majority of the L.A. area) - fireworks (even the legal kind) are illegal. You know like the sparklers, whistlers, fountains, flashers and even those black snakes that left a black mark on the sidewalk…all the fun stuff I liked to light on the street with the neighborhood kids after a block party.
These days most cities out here have public displays. In our case we can literally watch them from our house. Which isn’t bad, but it’s not the same. I’m no pyro, but as a kid, I really looked forward to those “safe and sane” branded fireworks that the boy scouts or rotary club sold in those temporary booth shacks with the wire windows (I know safe and sane are debatable since my friends and I always found ways to “modify” them with some power tools or duct tape...)

About 2 years ago we were invited to join a 4th of July BBQ near downtown L.A. with some friends. Apparently everything is legal there, even the illegal ones from Tijuana (People even walk around selling them on the streets) -- the police drive around and don’t do anything about it. Which all was a little appealing but very frightening at the same time. Our friends told us stories that even made me cringe a little -M-80’s being thrown, bottle rockets shooting sideways – O.K. so that makes me cringe allot – sounded allot more like a war zone. Oddly enough they didn’t see anybody get hurt, or fires, which I find very unbelievable.

You would think there could be some middle ground (I don’t know…no-flame fireworks with today’s technology?), but not around here.
I just read an article today in the L.A. Times about a boom in firework sales from “backyard” display sales. I’m not sure where, but I’d like to go there for the 4th next year.

Friends on HGTV July 12th!

Something exciting happened recently that's definitely worth mentioning - Our friends Steve & Rick recently bought a house in Echo Park (near downtown L.A.) and were featured on HGTV's new show "Urban Outsiders" (with Matt James "The City Gardener".) They completely recreated their backyard which before the transformation - looked horribly gaudy from the previous owner (she was some kind of hippie-artist really into mermaids and unicorn "type" art...) The show date -August 2nd.
Rick blogged about the whole experience here. My wife and I were pretty excited to see the final results when they had their big "reveal" BBQ. In fact, so excited we've been thinking of how we can get on some show to redo our backyard. If only a bag of cash fell from the sky...