Thursday, October 25, 2007

Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas and FREE Stencils That Will Impress The Neighbors

Pumpkin carving is one of my favorite things to do for Halloween ever since I was old enough to use a knife.

Last year my “pumpkin art” was an homage to a brilliant American entrepreneur, in a white suit, who brought the world the gift of fried chicken (with 11 herbs and spices) and dumped in a bucket (the common man’s way of eating food) to life once again.
This pumpkin brought joy and happiness to all who came to my house begging for candy.

I don’t know if I could ever top that again.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to carve this year, but I thought I would post some original stencils I’ve created for ALL TO USE (and one I’ve found online) while trying to figure it out.

The Pumpkin Stencil List (click and then download):
Colonel Sanders (cause' he does Chicken and Halloween right)
Chewbacca (he likes chewie candy)
Mud Flap Truck Girl (keep on trucking... for candy)
Fairy (that looks like exactly like Tinker Bell – but isn’t! It’s her sister Popcorn Chicken-Bell)
Ninja (the ninja will keep teenagers with no costumes away! I wish.)

For my daughters’ pumpkin:
Doodlebop -Dee-Dee (the less creepy of the three. Or not.)
Cinderella (this is a link)

In case you don’t know how to use a stencil instructions are here. I completely recommend using a Pumpkin Masters carving kit; you don’t need buy a fancy one just pick up the basic set. Most of the new tools are cheesy gimmicks and break easily anyway (big hint: you can find them at dollar stores now…)

Am I the only one who likes the tradition of carving pumpkins? Or are you like most people that buys a pumpkin and then forgets to carve it?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hello From L.A. Where Everything Is On Fire Except Chuck E Cheese’s

Today had promise. We were meeting two other 1-child couples (just like us) at this really great pumpkin patch that’s been family owned for, like, over 300 years.

This place has to be the ultimate pumpkin patch (Lombardi Ranch) this side of the Mississippi. They have tractor rides, pony rides, live music on 2 stages, ‘real’ farm animals, corn mazes, stagecoach rides, homemade organic-corn, and I think bands like “Huey Lewis and the News” kick off their world tour concerts from this place. Yes, it’s that big.
We’ve been talking about it for days and my daughter was looking forward to it like a Doodlebop was moving into the den. She woke up this morning singing “Pumpkin Patch! Pumpkin patch – hooray!”

Then came the winds. And then the fires – everywhere (this is my one big complaint about living in L.A. – whenever we get winds, everything catches fire!) Our drive over was immediately stopped because the police were evacuating the pumpkin patch. You could see this huge black ash cloud looming over the horizon.

Me: “Sorry, the Pumpkin Patch is on fire…”
Daughter: ((?!?!?))

Note to self – Never tell a toddler that anything is on fire. I guess it could have been worse; I was about to say the animals were on fire.

We met up with the other parents in a nearby parking lot and tried to figure out what to do with a bunch of disappointed kids.

Me: “I guess we can go to that Chuck E Cheese over there?”

Note to self – Never suggest Chuck E Cheese after the first crazy experience we had (read about that here.)

Chuck’s was packed! Obviously everybody else there was on the same boat. Later I wondered if maybe Chuck went out and started the fires himself to boost business (I wouldn’t put that past the rat!)
Overall the kids had fun running around, winning tickets, and jumping (dancing?) to an off-key animatronic rendition of Gloria Estefan's “Rhythm’s Gonna' Get You!” It played twice within 30 minutes (maybe that’s how they clear people out after eating…?)
The only unusual experience I had was running into this 3 or 4 year old girl wearing a t-shirt that said “Full Of Sh*T” on it. At first I thought my mind was playing tricks on me again. But no, it really said that. And from the look of her Mom (ganster? couldn’t have been older than 19 or 20) she was probably proud of her toddler wearing it.
I know these so-called kid attitude shirts are big (I find some entertaining myself) but come on – who buys a shirt like that for their toddler?

That's the kind of stuff that should catch fire (without the kid in it... or any animals.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Open Letter To A Parent That Buys A Hooker Halloween Costume For Their Daughter

Cry-Out Loud’s Mike wrote about this over at Babble and I had something to add.

To the parent that thinks it's "cute" to buy those slutty costumes for your girl,

You have failed as a parent. What are you thinking? It is NOT cute to dress your little girl in fishnet stockings, platform boots, exposed midriffs, vinyl whatever or anything resembling a Bratz doll. What are you raising your daughter to be anyways? Pregnant at 14.
It's beyond comprehension why you (a parent) would purchase this stuff. Maybe some of you do it because you want to live vicariously through your daughter? I find that utterly sick. And I wonder why any father would allow his daughter to dress like that? I find that even more disturbing (it’s our JOB to guard our daughters.)

And for those that allow their pre-teen, teenage daughter’s to buy the stuff that’s even worse – you must literally be smoking crack in some cave in Riverside. You are obviously oblivious as to how a teenage boys’ mind works. Let me remind you - the brain is 99.999% controlled by the penis; you’ve just tipped the scale to 340. I know some people are still in denial about this, but it is true. In fact, some grown men still haven't grown out of this. Yes, I know this information bothers people, but it is a reality - deal with it.
What message are you trying to convey to your daughter?

I’m not some freak or prude, I'm a normal parent who is actually pretty liberal. In fact if a grown woman wanted to walk around showing her boobs, God bless her, she's grown and that's her choice - BUT I draw that line at sexualizing little girls. Be a parent! They don't deserve to be thrown into the adult world. They'll have the rest of their lives to deal with that.

And to those companies that markets this stuff. What are you thinking? I hope this stuff sits in a landfill or ends up on some adult store's clearance rack in Tijuana where it could make some midget strippers day (or year.)

(Not by any means a perfect Dad, but trying to be...)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

5 Freeway Truck Tunnel Fire And The Loss Of A Child

Ever since becoming a parent any mention of any child getting hurt, seriously ill, or (gasp) dying just terrifies me. I can’t help but to feel completely concerned and distressed. Personally, there is nothing worse.

Saturday morning we were on our way to a baby shower and got caught on the 5 freeway (I-5) because of the truck tunnel fire. Completely stopped in traffic listening to AM news radio for any mention, checking the iPhone traffic map (which by the way has some major delayed info) and reading news while watching the wife and daughter getting uneasy and just falling asleep.
I’ve been in some pretty bad traffic jams but this was the worse and menacing ever, not because we were stopped but largely because of the people in the cars around us. People yelling, swearing, walking around yelling at people in their cars, trying to practically run over others. One thing is sure - we don’t have the friendliest people out here, in fact, I think the term “Road Rage” originated out here.
Eventually, once cars cleared, I popped the car in reverse and drove up an entrance ramp and sat yet again in more traffic. At least it was moving.

About an hour later on an alternate route (“the 14”) we passed the tunnel just north of us, which was still smoking. That was truly a frightening sight. All we could think about was how many people had been caught in there. Fortunately not many as originally thought, but today we had heard there was a cantaloupe truck driver that had his infant in the cab and they both died.

I can’t even comprehend…

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Questions 2-Year Olds Ask And How NOT To Answer

My daughter has been very inquisitive these days - she's always asking me questions such as “What are you doing Dad-DEE?”, “What’s that Dad-DEE?” It’s almost like having my own Cousin Balki. A few of my recent favorites:

Daughter: (pointing to the evening sky) What’s that, Dad-DEE?
Me: That’s a star. And it’s not in rehab
Daughter: A TAR!?! (excited)

Daughter: (pointing to a person) What’s that, Dad-DEE?
Me: That’s a man wearing a dress, you can tell because he has an Adams apple and mustache.
Daughter: A MUSTACHE!? (excited)

Daughter: (pointing to Christmas decorations at the mall - in October!!) What’s that, Dad-DEE?
Me: That’s Santa Claus. He brings presents on Christmas for everybody that goes pee-pee and poopy on the potty
Daughter: PRESS-ANTS!? (excited)

Daughter: What are you doing Dad-DEE? (playing this new Pirates game on the computer)
Me: If mommy asks, I’m paying bills
Daughter: BILLS!? (excited)

Daughter: What are you doing Dad-DEE? (honking the horn at some car that almost hit me)
Me: I’m honking the horn at that lady because she’s on crack!
Daughter: CRACK?

If she starts telling people they’re on crack the wife is going to shoot me…(again)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Want to Outsource Potty Training

This potty training business is MUCH harder than I thought. And it seems everybody I talk to has some advice on the issue - even those with kids who are 40 and those who don't have any. This one woman at work was telling me what I should do because she “potty trained” her dog and that made her qualified as a “pet-parent."

And then there are those parents who want convince me that their kid is Doogie Houser, like this one mom I chatted with at a birthday party on Saturday who told me that her 13-month old daughter uses the potty “all the time” followed by “and how old is yours…?”
I told her that her baby should be on “That’s Incredible!” She gave me a weird look, I think only because she’s too young to have ever seen “That’s Incredible!”

Things we've tried so far:

1. Potty Party: She pooped once and then she was over the party business
2. Bribing with Candy: Worked once, and that's about it. And I’m weary about giving her too much candy going down this path.
3. Toilet DVDs: We picked up that Elmo one where Elmo sits on the pot once and then talks and sings about it for 30 minutes. It didn't work, she’s 2 not 5. And did you know Elmo has a dad?
4. Lead by example: Going with mommy, and locking the door when it’s my turn (she walked in on me once and it totally confused her)
5. Diaper-less: She had no qualms about just going anywhere.
6. Wearing Underwear: Still goes OR holds it until she gets a diaper before going to bed.
7. Potty Books: Nothing. I finding these books to be a sham since it seems they’re geared more for 4 or 5 year-olds or even just the adults buying them. They don’t show enough doing because they get caught up in some long-winded story.

Now I’m starting to use unconventional methods:

1. Monsters, Inc (movie): She LOVES this movie, although she thinks Sully is Cookie Monster no matter how many times I tell her he’s his cousin. There’s this one part where Boo goes to the toilet then I tell my daughter “See! Boo uses the potty…” This gets her to go sit on the toilet.
2. Princesses: I’m not sure when or how it happened, but my daughter is really into princesses -I think it's because they can talk to animals and they wear “pretty” dresses. Anyhow she really wants a dress, but we keep telling her princesses use the potty. This gets her to sit, but nothing else.
3. Old School: My great-grandmother potty-trained me and about 18 cousins in one day by going “old world” on them. Feeding them salty crackers, making them drink water, even feeding them dried fruit to make them go and pretty much sitting them on the toilet all day. I’m not sure which village she was in, but apparently they did this when kids were between 18-24 months because there was no such thing as disposable diapers. I tried a version staying home all day, but it didn’t work. It was just messy and a whole lot of whining. When I did put the diaper on for the night, she pooped.
4. My own Potty Picture Book: I’m making strange little illustrations (I’m an artist remember?) of nothing but everybody and their mama sitting on the toilet. Kids, princesses, astronauts, teachers, monkeys, everything. Current books don't do enough. I know my daughter sits when she sees, not because of the story, so I’m hoping this will assist in the endeavor.
5. Peer-Pressure: Her cousins go to school and so does the crazy 4-year old next door that she idolizes. She really wants to go, but we keep telling her school means using the toilet. I’m not one for peer-pressure, but it seems to be having an influence.
6. Outsource: I’m looking…(India?)

Parents, any unconventional methods that worked? I’m having nightmares about having a 7 year old eating nothing but chili beans and still wearing diapers... and Huggies adding me to their VIP club.