Monday, January 29, 2007

The Downside Of Parenting: The IRS And Having A Virus Monkey In The House

My daughter came home sick on Friday after spending all day with a few other kids. This wasn’t just any kind of 'sickness' and definitely not the kind we’re used to. Nope, this was the evil kind.
The moment she got into the car she started spewing like the love child of Chucky and the Exorcist - it freaked us out! (Would you believe that this is our first experience with this type of sickness in her 18 months of life.)
Weird junk was flying all over the place - onto her, the car, the wife, the iPod(!) – with her arms flailing in the air like Richard Simmons, and putting her hands in “the line of fire” and then back onto herself. Yup, and it just kept coming out, intermediately, as if she had some secret chamber in her that we didn’t know about until that moment (human’s really are 90% fluid – no doubt about that anymore.)

It continued at home throughout the night. The poor thing couldn’t sleep and just wanted to cuddle the whole time - which is about the only upside to her being sick - except for the times she started spewing again (I’m really considering inventing vinyl sleepwear for parents...)
As a parent it really breaks my heart to see her in so much pain; I really wished I had some magical superhuman powers, like He-Man or Oprah’s 300 billion dollars, to make it all go away - but I don’t. I’m just an ordinary human being that plays the accordion just like everybody else. My powers are being a human pillow, a Pedialite waiter, and knowledge of the infamous BRAT (banana, rice, apple, toast) diet - watching her eat, and then watching it come out again (thar' she blows!)
We knew it was finally over the next day when she started asking for Potato Chips and Chicken again. What a relief! All was right in the world once again - birds started singing, the sun came out, and David Hasselhoff arrived home safely that morning without a DUI and black eye.
That’s until the wife called me at work crying on the phone, revealing to me that she now has ‘the darkness’ in her.

Now, I’m afraid to go home. Scared, really anxious and worried about getting sick too. It feels as if the IRS, armed with their butterfly nets, are waiting for me to come home tonight. Sitting on my living room sofa listening to my Tom Jones CD’s, and playing with my Nintendo Wii…(help me Oprah…!)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Welcome To California: Where It’s O.K. To Spank Your Spouse, Maid, Gardner, Neighbor, Waitress, Dog, Cat, But Not Your Kid

I guess I’m not surprised in a state like mine where smoking outdoors is banned because of global warming and lung cancer in birds, or something like that. There’s a new law being proposed out here banning parents from spanking their kids. Yes, really! It sounds jarring but it’s really directed at kids 3 and under. Which has me wondering when they’ll just expand it to all kids (they keep on referencing Sweden, which has a total ban on spanking, but ironically has no ban on picking up after your dog – I HATE that!)

Let me just say that I don’t spank my kid. At 18 months that’s ridiculous; but in a year or 3, if she happens to hold-up a 7-11 or takes the car out for a weekend joyride with the kiddies from Gymboree, well then, I’ll be happy to know that the option of spanking is there. I usually don’t talk politics but (standing on apple crate, national anthem begins…with waving flag behind me and a bald eagle named Julio on my arm…) I think the bored lawmakers are crossing the line again. I want the government to stay out of my house, out of my parenting, and out of people’s personal business. Yes, I know that there are extremes like you can’t eat your kid, or farm-raise puppies to sell in Ohio, but those are really uncommon and rare – you don’t build laws from the extremities. Passing laws like this is just pushing government more into the homes of “the common man”(angelic choir ending…symbols ‘crashing’!)

The funny part? This (meddling) assemblywoman (Sally Lieber- Mountain View) introducing the bill isn’t even a parent. Hello?! (Should I pass laws telling middle-aged childless women how to live? I bet she wouldn’t like that, huh?) Her justification of passing such a thing is by using some really extreme examples of like 3 kids (out of what, 4 million in California?) being beaten by parents with tractors tires, tool shed steel doors, or something crazy like that. As if there aren’t any stringent child abuse or mandated reporting laws already in effect here.
But wait, there’s more! Like all laws, it does have a loophole. It exempts teachers and childcare workers. So if you want to spank your kid in California, hire a skilled professional – much like the mafia, or Brittany Spears.

You say you want more? If you live in California and want to write this assemblywoman, here’s the contact info. Here’s also the contact info for the “Governator” (Note: not for signing autographs on your “Buns of Steel” videos - although I can sign that for you…) Please remember, be respectful when writing to them. Keep it quick, short, and to the point -just like a real spank.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Battle Between Work And Family Life. What Would Elmo Do?

There’s just something about being at work 10 pm on a Sunday that really gets a parent/spouse like myself thinking about ‘the career’ and the future.
I’ve been working a lot the past few weeks and the part that really bothers me most is not seeing the wife and daughter nearly as much as I’d like. I see my daughter for about 30 minutes in the morning and that’s about it.

The other night just made my heart melt, I called the wife (like I do every night while on my 20-minute ‘dinner break’) and talked to my daughter. She was doing her normal chatter about Elmo and then she comes out and says “Daddda --- I-luv-yooooo” all in one breathe. After I said my goodbyes, I hung up the phone and about died. What’s happening to me? That must be the helpless feeling that a parent in jail feels after the kids leave the visiting area – the only difference being that I’m free to choose Coke or Pepsi at dinner. Thankfully, these crazy hours should be over in a week.

The ‘higher-ups’ at work are there all-the-time - even during non-demanding times. These people can be found there until 8-9 every night and also come in on weekends (I sometimes wonder if they sleep in their cars...) The thing that strikes me is that the vast majority of them have spouses and small kids at home. That bothers me - a lot. I’m wondering if that’s my destiny and if I really want a life like that too (I'm on that track...) I’m almost to the point of getting off this soul train. Maybe staying on the slower one that doesn’t require passing up my family along the way, much like those people have done.

My greatest fear is looking back 25 years from now, when my daughter is all grown-up and wishing I would have been there watching her grow (feedings with Elmo, chasing boys away, teaching her how to draw and play video games, crime-fighting, etc.) but somehow missed out because I was too busy working.
Although, on the flip side… What happens if she ends up working at Hot Topic, smokes crack, and runs away with some truck driver/wannabe rock star, actor from Oklahoma?! Then I would be wishing I did spend more time at work. Does anybody know where I can borrow a DeLorean with a flux capacitor?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Five Things You Didn't Know About Me (And Some That May Scare You…)

I was tagged by real-life friend Rick for this (I did another similar to this called “5 weird things about me” awhile back too..)

1. I was in a Roller Skating Rink advertisement when I was 11. For the coolest rink in town at the time – Skate Country. It was a staged birthday party scene with 4 other kids (I was in the center- the “supa-star” birthday kid.) The thing ran locally for nearly a year. I was even recognized once at the local Sizzler and at the mall. I wish I can find the advertisement and put in on a t-shirt.

2. My Art teacher in High School told me that I would never have an Art career. That got to me motivated and so I did everything in my power to prove her wrong (even used voo-doo…. Well no, not really.) In reality, that’s probably the best thing anybody ever did for me, since I ended up where I am today. I tried to get in contact with her about 10 years ago, but she had passed away.

3. I had an encounter with a Spice Girl. When the Spice Girls did their movie premiere of “Spice World” in Hollywood, a friend and I went to a restaurant they were going to be at (we had some inside info.) I almost ran into Posh (aka: "Hot Spice" or Victoria) near the restroom, she stopped and said “hello thar” to that posh English accent. That was cool.

4. I can play Depeche Mode songs on the accordion. Actually, that’s about all I can play on it. When I was a kid, I wanted to take piano lessons like everybody else. But somehow I ended up taking accordion instead. I still have the thing in my grandparent’s garage – I wonder if the DM sticker is still on it?

5. I was a vegetarian for 13 years. It ended just after we had my daughter, I had 2 reasons for eating meat again 1) I didn’t want my daughter to be picky about food; possibly hearing “Daddy doesn’t eat cow, so why should I?” 2) There’s this freaky vegan (ya’ know, the kind that doesn’t eat anything that casts a shadow) at work that weights like 12, maybe 13 pounds and both her daughters (around age 4 and 9) are vegans too (she said “they” made the decision themselves…yeah, sure, O.K.) I’ve seen pictures of them and they look weird - like that one drugged out Olsen twin.

If you want to do this on your blog, leave a comment and I’ll link to you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I Don’t Understand…What’s This “White Stuff” Falling From The Sky?!

I don’t mean to alarm people, but I think the world it about to end. This morning it actually snowed at my house. I kid you not. The neighbors and I were outside confused (staring at the sky like the second coming of Oprah was upon us) walking around taking pictures, except the neighbors from Colorado – they were like “Its snow! What’s the big freakin’ deal?” And then went back inside.
I’ll tell you, this doesn’t happen here in L.A. Actually, I think it’s illegal (I remember, I voted against it, right next to banning smoking outdoors.) Yes, I do know that snowing here isn’t impossible, some of the old timers from the neighborhood do tell of stores of this happening back in 1912 (like when the big rigs got stuck on the freeways and chemical spills happened…) But that was a long time ago.

In the excitement I became a little disappointed, I wished the wife and daughter were there - they had left a little earlier and missed the 30-minute miracle Oprah had bestowed upon our tiny village. I would have loved to see my daughter’s reaction to the white mystical stuff.
Some days, I wish I could just call that dude from Star Trek (Sammy, Johnny, or whatever his name is) and tell the French dude, Dude, Laser-beam my familia here, pronto! Until then, they’ll have to settle on camera-phone pictures and my memory of it instead.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Mommy, Why Does Father Stay Up So Late...? And The True Meaning Of Friendship

Yes, I got it! I finally got my Nintendo Wii. And it was real easy too. In fact, I really didn’t do anything (except breathe) unlike a few weeks ago, you know, waiting in line at 5am at the local Best Buy with all of those weird people who would have killed me with their laser eyes if one happen to fall into my arms out of the sky, by migrating birds.

How did this miracle happen? Let me educate: I was sitting on my crazy dentists’ chair (on the 8th teeth impression redo) and a friend calls me on the cell -- so while she was laughing, running around with the saliva foam on her head, I answered the phone:

Friend Frank: Wha-chou doing?

(dentist in BG: ”put the chick-en, in da’ pot…”)

Me: Nothing much, sitting in a Dentist chair. My Dentist is getting us some beers…

Friend Frank: That’s cool. So you still looking for a Wii? Because -- Targets got 'em, BEE-YOTCH! You want one?

(dentist in BG: ” …having teeth is good…mine are made of wood…blah, blah, blah..”)

Me: Whatchoou-talkin'bout willis?! Hell Yeah!!

“Best Friend” Frank: O.K. – I’ll pick up it and bring it to work.

Me: Dude, I owe you ‘big time’! When I have another kid, you can have it…

And then I come to work and it’s there - glowing. After I closed my eyes, smelled and licked the box, I felt cold or flu-like symptoms coming on. But being the responsible grown man that I am, I waited until I got home and stayed up until 1am playing it while the wife and daughter slept. Because that’s what married fathers in there thirties do, right?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Random Thoughts For Friday: Because Some Days, I Just Wanna Dance

My Dentist IS The Muppets Swedish Chef In Drag
At least that’s my belief at the moment. I was there over 2 hours getting ‘teeth impressions’ for those Invisalign braces that I’ll soon be sporting (minus the gold, diamonds, fiber-optic lighting effects, etc.) She had to redo it 11 times (yes, 11) because (1) her hands kept pushing too hard when she was saying something about the IRS. (2) She was too busy noticing the new tattoo (in addition to the 50) on her pregnant assistants arm. (3) She was possibly a little sauced at 8:30 A.M. If you remember, I have a very odd suspicion that she may be a heavy drinker since she slurs like the late great James Brown, smells like Hennessy, and I can’t understand what she’s saying half the time.

I Really Want That Apple iPhone
I like toy gadgets. Really “shiny” ones that can do everything (even change the car oil and cure the sick) - a lot. And I like to be the first to get them. I guess this behavior stems from my childhood. Growing up, I hardly ever got what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. When all the other kids were getting Colecovisions or the original Nintendo, I got stuff like board games (or what I referred to at the time as “bored” games) and underwear with monkeys on them (at 14.)

Like the late-great Colonel Sanders once said, “I’m too drunk to finish this chicken”
I've been working late nights at the J.O.B. since returning from Florida. Now, I’m pretty much working 7 days a week for the next 3 weeks. The negative side is coming home late - which pretty much sucks for me, my wife, and daughter. The only plus side is the fine food from local fancy restaurants they’ve been feeding us (I had sushi and oysters on the half-shell tonight...!) But in reality, nothing beats sharing KFC with my daughter who loves the novelty of chicken in a bucket... just like me.

It’s "De-Lurking Week" and nobody sent me chocolate
If you lurk around these parts, come into the light and say something in the comments. If you don’t know what to say, tell me who's your favorite Spice Girl (real or imaginary...)

New tricks the daughter is doing these days
Instead of saying, “move” or “excuse me” if you’re in her way, she squeaks “BEEP-BEEP” (like a car horn) - she got that habit from her mom. She carries around a miniature KFC bucket of chicken and says “Chick-EN!” real loud – she got that habit from her mom. She talks a million miles-a-minute, most of it is unintelligible, but you can pick out some words – she got that from our Dentist.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sharp Objects Aren’t For Toddlers; They’re For Throwing At Attacking Ninja’s And Their Angry Diseased Monkeys

What would you do if your kid comes running to you with a handful of pushpins in her hands, in her hair and yelling “Eat!”, while at work? Me? Well, scream on the inside, of course, all while holding back a tear, trying to keep calm (her and me) and hope she doesn’t start crying bloody murder so that the co-workers don’t call the police/Superman/social services/Jesus/Oprah.

So I brought my daughter into work for a few hours. I always like taking her to work – it’s like “Show and Tell” walking through the halls, while people poke out of the offices and cubes saying things like “oooohhh, how cute!”, “look at her cute clothes”, “so that’s what a kid looks like”….etc. She loves the attention and in a proud parent kind-of-way, so do I. She’s my little pride and joy. And besides people are much friendly to you when they know you have a kid (you know, like in the movies when a victim is about to get shot by some bad dude, and then he yells “WAIT”, whips out picts of his kid(s)…then the bad dudes boss tells the rookie bad dude to only shoot the victims legs – hmmm, that could be why I carry a picture of my daughter around….just in case.)

This visit was much different than her last a few months ago. She actually moves a lot faster at 18-months... like a Ninja. One minute she’s sitting, quietly eating her Elmo Crackers humming "E-I,E-I- Oh"; I’ll turn away to look at my computer, then look back only to discover she’s run out the fire exit with somebody’s car keys and hidden bottle of tequila.
I have to watch her like a hawk these days; unfortunately those parental “eyes in the back of my head” haven’t developed yet. And she talks a whole lot more now too - but only the kind of talk that only few (wife and I) can really understand. For instance, her “Ahh man!”, sounds a lot like “Ahh, sh*t” (don’t ask… but you should see the stares we get for that one.)

What was I writing about again? Yeah, so I was picking needles out of her hair while singing Elmo’s song (distraction) and saying things like “yeah, Elmo's is one crazy dog...bird...monkey..45-year-old sicko” (quietly and calmly though - didn’t want to make people come over) and then she stared at my face, looked concerned, then said “Dada?!”….Ahh SH*T”….(real loud!)

At least she uses it in context.

Friday, January 05, 2007

If Animals Can Use Toilets, Why Not My 18-Month Old?

O.K. so the wife and I are going to start the challenge into this vast unknown world scientifically called “crap in the john and wipe your own butt”. Our daughter is closing in on 18-months in a few days and we’re desperate end the diaper thing – not only are they harmful to landfills (I think they kill rats, pigeons, possums choke on the Velcro or the character's images, whatever), but the contents are looking too much like horse poop (maybe somebody else is feeding her on the side, I don’t know) this diaper things needs to end now.

We’ve been asking fellow parents we trust, you know, the ones where their kids seem to be doing fine - mastering the skill and all - and I’ve been skimming the blogs for advice on potty training the last few days. The wife and I have gotten books but they seem to be all over the place, and I question a 65-year old pediatrician whose own kids are in there 40’s – I don’t know about you all but I think that’s a little out of touch with today. My wife and I really don’t read those parenting magazines anymore because they’re all mostly written by freaks who think that a kid showing up to kindergarten in Pull-Up isn’t a 'bad thing' as long as the kid feels “loved” (I’m generalizing, yes).

I want real advice from real parents, so I’m asking for your Jedi secrets, tips, hints, bribe methods, voodoo, tools (tin buckets, Big Gulp cups, plastic thrones with candy dispensers…) etc. I’m open to anything except the ‘letting the kid tell you when she’s ready’ method, because frankly there’s something really bizarre about that to me.

We had a party a year ago and some friends’ 4-year old kid went under a table (she announced to us all that she needed to poop) stunk up the room (pretty much ended the eating thing), and then demanded her dad change her Pull-Up and then asked for ice cream (which she got). Then our 'friends' (who we don't see hardly anymore...) told everybody that she wasn't ready yet to use the toilet (hmmm, I wonder why?) God, I don’t want that to ever happen…

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My Predictions (Not Resolutions) For 2007

No, these aren’t “resolutions”, they're more like “prophecies”, Ya’ know, since I’m bad like that.

*Finish Christmas shopping before Christmas. Would you believe we haven’t finished from last year? Unless you’re one of our friends (or possible relatives) reading this who we haven’t seen yet, then yeah, we got your gift weeks ago.

*I will learn to speak French (again). Before going to Japan my wife and I used those audio-only Pimsleur learning CD’s. They worked pretty well - natives were pretty impressed. I’m hoping to do the same thing for our trip to France in October. And it helps that the wife speaks fluent French.

*My daughter will be potty trained by the end of the year. I wish she were trained now because on some days you’d swear she eats nothing but raw meat and beans. A diaper is a real nasty thing. Actually, she’s been telling us “poo-poo” when she’s done her business or is about to seal the deal. That means something, right?

*Apple will release a “real” movie iPod. And I’ll buy the thing the day Steve Jobs announces it wearing those stupid jeans, black turtleneck, and tennis shoes (somebody’s got to tell him it’s not 1986 anymore.)

* I’ll never knowingly use the urinal next to the big boss at work ever again. That just happened this morning and well, talk about ‘stage fright’.

*I’ll stop watching Golden Girls late at night. It annoys the wife and she leaves the room. Actually, I’ll have to really think about this one - Rose and “Ma” are pretty funny. Count this as the first one to go down in flames.

*Nintendo Wii’s will be plentiful. And I’ll laugh at myself for waiting in line at Best Buy with those crazy people a few weeks ago.

What about all of you...have any 'resolutions', I mean prophecies?

Monday, January 01, 2007

It’s Over: Christmas/New Year’s/Family Vacation. And I’m Avoiding Disney World For A Few Years

We’ve returned. Yes, there’s nothing like spending New Year’s Eve evening flying into LAX with a bunch of crazy people who smell like Frenchmen in the summertime and then driving through Wendy’s at midnight (we were freakin’ starving!) and the fast-food worker yells “Happy New Year’s” in Spanish and then asks what kind of sauce do you want with those $.99 chicken nuggets (did I mention he had 3 teeth?) It sure feels good to be back in L.A.
Oh yeah, and some famous basketball player was flying with us on the plane. I don’t know what his name was (I don’t watch sports, remember…although I did enjoy G.L.O.W. in the 80’s.)

I hope everybody survived Christmas and New Years. Overall we did have fun out at Disney World. Although it was challenging at times with 3 families and 5 kids – though the kids weren’t the ones who had all the drama - we have a controlling brother-in-law who practically needs to give bathroom permission to his wife, which was really annoying to my wife and I (he grew up in a farm in Ohio, I don’t know…maybe in 1870) and a father-in-law who brought along his new lady-friend (who’s 73 but looks not a day over 85. He's 62) and they shared the same room and bed (thankfully the kids didn’t ask questions) Oh the joys! And the weather was really weird- when we first got there it was all ‘hot and humid’ (we didn’t pack for that- so we went shopping), and then it rained like a mo-fo for a day or two (went shopping again), and then it got really cold (just what we packed for.) And just before we left, it got really nice. I’m not sure how you Florida people put up with that craziness.

Interesting things I learned:

*Never go to Disney World between Christmas and New Years. I’m not sure what we were thinking; several parks got “full” on some days (not a good thing.) Everybody said Thanksgiving is much better time or even the week before Christmas.
* Stay in a Disney hotel. Most of the time we were in a vacation rental house, the other days we stayed at Disney hotels (Wilderness Lodge and Port Orleans-Riverside) it’s easy to get around with those resort buses and the parks stay open late just for hotel guests (up to 3 a.m.) so you can actually go on rides.
*My daughter’s favorite ride? Can you believe it was walking up and down steps!? There must be something about those steps that’s better than the ones here in California.
* Really “large” (a nice way of saying ‘fat’) people in those electric scooters are annoying. I can’t tell you how many times they tried to run us over while honking with those annoying whining, hissing horns. I saw about 12 of them getting up to buy ice cream and turkey legs a few times. We don’t have nearly as many of those out here.
* I can survive without touching a computer for 10 days (I never thought that could ever happen unless I fell in a hole) Although that has some drawbacks -I didn’t know Saddam was hung, and Ford and James Brown died. So it was like being cut off from the world.
*Go to the Kennedy Space center. It was only an hour away and now I’m pretty sure that the moon landing wasn’t “faked” on a soundstage like that crazy professor in college claimed.
*That Expedition Everest ride was pretty cool.
* Stores in Orlando didn’t have Nintendo Wii’s either (yes, I checked)

Does anybody make New Year’s resolutions? I was thinking about it today, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to scream when I see the new credit card bill.