Sunday, December 11, 2011

WORSE CHRISTMAS JOB EVER: Santa’s “Last in Line” Elf

The worse Elf job isn’t a Dentist, it’s actually being the last person standing in line for Santa pictures at the mall.

At first, I didn’t think anything of it when Santa’s maybe 16-17 year old cashier girl Elf approached my family and gave me a handmade written sign on the back of a dinosaur experience ad that said “LAST IN LINE :) ”

Her only instructions were “Here, hold this and show it to people behind you.”

Exhibit 1: “LAST IN LINE :) ” handmade card on back of the dinosaur experience ad. Note irony of smiling face at the end of the note.

Then as she walked away I thought to myself, “Hmm, a little odd since it was a Sunday, just after noon, and just two weeks before Christmas.” But whatever - just flashing a sign to strangers shouldn’t be that big of a deal, right?

I was wrong. Terribly wrong…

Potential Customers #1: Couple with small infant--

I flash “LAST IN LINE :) ” card and smile.

Me: (pointing to cashier elf) Santa’s Elf up there gave this to me.
Dad: What’s that mean?
Me: We’re the last in line.
Mom: (I see anger forming) Well, where’s he going?
Me: I don’t know, she (pointing to cashier elf) just gave me this card.
Mom: (definitely angry while looking at me) SCREW THIS!!

Then they walk away talking pretty loud. It’s a good thing the infant doesn’t understand english yet.

Potential Customers #2: Grandmother with with two small toddlers--

I flash “LAST IN LINE :) ” card and (try) smiling

Me: (pointing to cashier elf) Santa’s Elf up there gave this to me.
Grandmother: (Shocked) Are you joking?
Me: No, the (pointing to cashier elf) Elf up there gave this to me.
Grandmother: Where am I supposed to go? (Angry and peering into my soul…it burned.)
Me:I don’t…I don’t know…maybe he’s going on break and is coming back…
Grandmother: (Starts talking in a foreign language. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard my gardener say a few of those words while screaming at his lawn mower when it doesn’t start…)

They all walk away and the kids look really confused.

Woman standing in front of us with infant turns around---

Woman: Wow, I’m sure glad I got here early enough before you guys.
Then she turned back around and resumed texting on her phone.

Potential Customers #3: Couple with lots of kids on a big stroller---

Exhibit 2: Big stroller. How on earth do they go shopping with these things without running over innocent bystanders?

I flash “LAST IN LINE :)” card and (force) smile

Me: (pointing to cashier elf) Santa’s Elf up there gave this to me.
Dad: What the...!
Me: We’re the last in line… the (pointing to cashier elf) Elf up there gave this to me. It’s not my fault. Go talk to the (pointing to cashier elf) …Elf. She’s the one that's done this.

Then the kids got upset, and then the wife, and then my kids get scared because the Dad is yelling at his kids and his wife and maybe mine and everybody else's too. And then they eventually leave. But then more people are behind them...!

I went over to the Elf that started this all and ask how long the wait was going to be because being the “LAST IN LINE :)” was a horrible experience. She said the Elf girl that normally holds the “LAST IN LINE :)” card didn’t show up to work. And then people that were paying for their pictures said it took them nearly an hour and a half to reach Santa.

I walked over to the woman in front of us, handed her the “LAST IN LINE :)” card, and then we left.
On the way out I told my wife I’m just going to take the Santa picture from last year and Photoshop new heads on the kids.

Done. And I saved us $35.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Disney World – The Most Tiring Place on Earth

I think I’ve finally recovered now that we’ve been back for a week.

No doubt about it, all of the kids we traveled with loved the place and all of the adults seemed to have fun as well - eating and drinking at EPCOT is a huge reason alone to go. And in hindsight I really enjoyed spending time with my family, some in-law's we hadn’t seen in a few years, and our friends that traveled along with us.
The only problem I really had was waking up early, walking and waiting in lines all day, and then getting home at around 10-11PM at night…for 6 days in a row!

The place is a marathon of endurance and all while spending enormous amounts of money for simple things like a bottled water ($3), popcorn ($3), and pretzels ($1 million!) I finally did try a Turkey Leg, but the $9 price and the fact I looked like Fred Flintstone while walking around with it prevented me from buying another.

I told the wife at day 4, 5, or maybe 6 (I don’t really remember as the days all seemed to have blended together towards the end) that next year we need to go someplace relaxing where we don’t have to move much and someplace that can keep the kids entertained for at least half of the day so we can sleep.
Then on the Disney bus ride back to the airport, they showed a commercial for a new resort out in Hawaii with parents having drinks and sleeping on a beach while the kids are running around in a kids program with Goofy.

Hawaii? OK, I'm listening...

Talk about brilliant marketing and timing. If I hadn’t spent so much on bottled water, popcorn, and a Turkey Leg I would’ve asked the airline to take me directly there from Orlando.

Flying with a Toddler: Follow-up
I’m impressed with all of the suggestions and comments in the last post - Thank you! I did try a few out with my 18-month old son. Most worked for a bit, namely the small new surprises idea, but in the end the iPad beat everything out.
I did download around $30 worth of iPhone/iPad apps and ripped a few kids movies onto the thing.

I thought I’d share a few apps that REALLY kept my son and daughter (and me) entertained:

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Great interactive storybook of the TV special.
Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App - Very nice and clever cartoon/storybook using the kids' own voice.
Elmo's Monster Maker HD - Make your own Muppet and then it interacts with you and Elmo. It's a little short, but my son loves it.
Where's My Water - My six year old, wife, and I are completely addicted. And shockingly this game is only $1 for both iPad and iPhone!
Harold and the Purple Crayon - Another well done interactive storybook of the classic story.
Toca Tea Party, Toca Birthday, Toca Store - Pretty much anything done by this developer "Toca Boca" should be bought. Completely clever not quite games but "toys" that get everybody playing together.
Scribblenauts Remix - Amazing solving game and pretty much anything your imagination comes up with. I still can't get over how large this game is - type anything in and it appears. My daughter and I just had fun coming up with weird scenarios and watching Ninja's fight with dinosaurs with hats!

An Airline Steward That Hates Toddler’s and Children:
I can’t even begin to describe how truly disappointed I am with my favorite airline in the entire world – Virgin America. I’ve been a die-hard fan for years now literally going out of my way to make our planning work out with their plane schedules just so we can fly on their fancy planes. But then something devastating happened on the flight back home.

And this isn’t something small and petty either - it was downright cruel. So bad that even others around us were horrified. I still can't believe it...

Anyway, I’ve contacted Virgin America and am now waiting for response; if I don’t hear back from them then I'll share the experience.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vacation - Good. Taking a Toddler on an Airplane – BAD!

We leave for Disney World soon and I couldn’t be more thrilled about finally being able to take some time off of work to spend time with my wife, kids, some friends, and some family we haven’t seen in over 5 years.

But with all of the excitement comes dread – my son is now 18-months old and has literally two setting: RUN and sleep. Saying he’s a bundle of energy is an understatement.
I first considered buying him a seat on the airplane, which of course is HIGHLY recommended by the airline and “experts.” Problem is, when my daughter was around 19-months we flew with her car seat and she kicked the seat in front of her for hours. Yes, hours, even with us trying to hold her legs down. Try holding toddlers legs down for a few hours?

Yeah, that’s the part the airlines and those “experts” don’t tell you about. The lady in front of us had every right to shoot us. I should have given her permission to shoot the stupid expert who thought putting a car seat in an airplane was a good idea – especially now that the seats are even closer together these days. My recommendation, don’t put a toddler in a car seat in an airplane unless you really want the entire plane against you. Most people are already not caring or concerned for parents and small kids on airplanes as it is.

Anyhow, we’re tried the Benadryl idea with my daughter when she was just about 2-years old and it created horrible results. Instead of sleepy or drowsy she became irritable and hyper. We read later that you’re supposed to “test” it first. So this time around we tested it with our son and it seemed to chill him out. I guess the ultimate test will be the upcoming 4 and a half hour flight.

But I’m looking for alternate ideas. Parents of the world, PLEASE tell me your secrets to a successful airplane flight with your toddler?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When Did Innocent Fairy Tale Costumes Get Trampy?

I’m beyond disturbed…

My daughter wanted to be Dorothy from Wizard of Oz this year because she saw some other girl her age wearing the costume and she’s a huge fan of the movie.
Well, only the singing parts of the movie she watches on YouTube. And she really likes the idea of carrying a Toto stuffed animal dog in a basket.

So of course when she asked, “Can I be Dorothy this year for Halloween?” We said, “sure, all right” that sounds pretty cute and innocent enough; it is a classic gem of a movie and it’s even got midgets and monkeys.
So I Googled it to look at some shopping options and to my surprise a whole lot of options came up for all ages.

From toddler

To elementary
And then this one was listed as teen
And then this...?!

Hells no! What kind of message is this sending to young girls when they’ve taken an innocent childhood character and have made a progression of her from toddler to lap dancer? I don't want ever want my daughter to see costumes like that which are suppose to be the same character as her.

They’ve even made a “sexy” Tin Man costume...

Seriously? The Tin MAN. The Tin Man is a MAN, not a sexy woman. Who designs this stuff?

What’s next “Elmo?” Oh, wait – they ALREADY MAKE ONE!

My advice for Halloween costume designers: sure, make sexy costumes for adult women, but stay off the characters that are made for kids. Don’t ruin fairytales and classic movies.

Some suggestions so workers in China can stay employed in the Halloween costume industry--

NOT OK: Dorothy, Belle, Jasmine, Snow White, etc.

OK: Sexy KFC Bucket of Chicken

Sunday, October 23, 2011

28th Annual FREE Halloween Pumpkin Stencils

I really haven’t been creating these stencils that long, it just sounds much more dramatic.

This year was another tough one, trying to come up with some ideas that outshine my Lionel Richie and Colonel Sanders pumpkin stencils from past years.
In fact, this year I am making the KFC one again just because I FINALLY got a Colonel Harland Sanders costume after years of searching. And that’s not even the best part – my job paid for the costume, as I needed something impressive for a PR event.
The only thing that can outshine that is getting free popcorn chicken.

And if my wife let me dress our 18-month old son in a chicken costume.

Most of my designs this year come from reader requests and one from my daughter of her now favorite movie of all-time, “Xanadu”, a 1980 romantic musical fantasy roller-skating disco film with Olivia Newton John. Obviously her mother had NOTHING to do with that.

This year’s free pumpkin stencils (click to download):


Kira from Xanadu

Snow White and Apple


Past year stencils are linked here: Lionel Richie, KFC Colonel Sanders, Peanuts/Linus and the Great Pumpkin, Princess and the Frog, Evil Queen, Fairy, Ninja, Star Wars: Chewbacca, Gary Coleman, Jack Skellington.

Use Disclaimer: I just ask that these be used non-commercially, and not used for T-shirts, sold items, as in Zazzle or Etsy type-places (seeing my fan art for sale on items without my knowledge or permission REALLY SUCKS.)
Please DO NOT reposted the art anywhere else. You may link to them on Facebook and such or print them out for personal use only.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Where Does The Time Go?

I know it’s been awhile, but it’s been getting harder finding the time to post these days.

In between the commotion at work, my daughter just starting 2nd grade, my son growing too fast, and all of the extra time I spend playing games on my “Fakebook” account -- my phony Facebook account where I’m a 72 year old bee farmer from Norway – there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day anymore.

What I’ve been up to:

Screw the Environment – Wipe Your Butt!
My daughter started second grade this school year and they’ve been getting a little more environmentally conscious in the curriculum.
Things went a bit too far recently when after my daughter ran out of the bathroom and I asked, as I normally do, “did you wash your hands and wipe your butt?” she said, “No! That’s wasting trees and water!”

My Wife’s Mutant Chiropractor is on YouTube?
My wife started appointments with a “wholistic chiropractor” over the summer. I don’t like him. The guy is a freak and looks like a creepy, even more mutant, version of Wolverine.

She convinced me to go to one of his 3-hour seminars where he pretty much claimed he could cure anything from bad breath to preventing an asteroid hitting the earth through the magic of chiropractor arts and his adamantium hands.

16-Months Old With Super Chubby Legs and Cheeks
I have a problem. I can’t stop squeezing my sons cheeks and squeezing his chubby legs. I can’t help it, he’s squishy.

Questions To Ask a Prospective Nanny
We scrambled last month trying to find a new nanny for our kids as our last one decided she didn’t want to be a nanny anymore; she wanted to be a nail salon receptionist instead.
My daughter put together a few questions to add in the interview process...

  1. What’s your favorite color and is it purple?
  2. Do you have a cat and can you bring it with you because my Daddy won’t let me get one.
  3. How often will you take me and my baby brother to Jamba Juice? (local smoothie place)
  4. Have you ever seen [the movie] Xanadu?
  5. What games do you have on your iPhone?
  6. What would you name a horse that’s purple?
Hitting Rock-Bottom…
I recently let my gym membership expire after 10 years. I was going pretty consistently 4-5 times a week for years and was quite proud of myself, even to the point of doing a couple of 5K and 10K’s. But got burned out and with work, the kids, the fakebook games, everything else that going on, I didn’t rush to get another one. Until…

I was waiting for my wife in the car, while at her appointment with Wolverine, and an old gym friend walked and saw me stuffing my face with (delicious) KFC popcorn chicken and fries.

I signed up for another gym shortly thereafter. Then my wife said Wolverine offered to help cure my KFC addition.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Letter from the Tooth Fairy

My daughter lost her first tooth this week and it was quite the historic occasion as it had been wiggling for nearly 2 weeks.

My wife and I finally had enough and just pulled the thing out. Which wouldn’t have been too bad if it weren’t for blood that appeared everywhere which, in turn, ended up completely freaking her out. She kept screaming while crying, “OH NO!!! I’m spilling BLOOD!!! Now vampires are going to EAT ME!!!”

Her ex-nanny was really into Twilight.

The drama was finally over after I calmly explained that vampires only live in the Seattle area, then she became excited wondering how much the tooth fairy was going to leave her.

Oh yeah…completely forgot about that part.

Her friends at school have told her that they’ve gotten anywhere between $2-10 a tooth, which I find a little much. In my day, I remember getting a quarter ($.25) and that was only if I didn’t swallow or lose it first. My wife on the other hand didn’t get any money, the tooth fairy in Ohio left her underwear and socks.
My daughter didn’t want underwear or socks, “just the money.”

I reassured her that there wasn’t anything to worry about as we don’t live in Ohio and we weren’t planning on moving there anytime soon.

“Good! That sounds like a bad place to lose a tooth” she replied with relief.

After she tucked her tooth behind the pillow and we kissed her goodnight she asked, “What does the tooth fairy do with all of the teeth anyway?”

“I don’t know? Maybe she’ll write you a letter...”

So after my wife and I negotiated and settled on a sum of $2, without addition of socks or underwear, she ran to the ATM and then stopped somewhere to get change while I was at home writing.

Here's the letter:

Dear Gillian,

My name is Natasha and I’ve been assigned to be your Tooth Fairy! Thank you for the shiny, well-brushed tooth. I can tell you’ve taken really good care of it. Because of its condition I have left $2.00 USD in its place.

In case you were wondering, most teeth go into the Tooth Fairy collection vault in the Tooth Fairy castle in the clouds where they are guarded by large white unicorns to keep vampires away. But sometimes special ones, like yours, are used for new babies.
Don’t worry! Your baby brother already has all of his baby teeth so he won’t be getting any of yours. That would be kind of gross, wouldn’t it? (LOL!)

I look forward to working with you. Next time leave freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.


“Tooth Fairy #227”

P.S. I’m SO glad you don’t live in Ohio. The law there requires us to give underwear and socks instead of money.

And here's a printable Tooth Fairy letter in case you want to make one of your own..
(Click to print)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Camp Ruined My Kids’ Career Ambitions

Tomorrow is my daughter’s last day of Summer Camp and for the most part it’s been a pretty good experience for her. Especially after spending that initial month with our visiting teenage niece from Ohio (read previous post for more on that.)

She’s made lots of new friends at Camp, her days have been filled with lots of activities and field trips to places that I am grateful they take her to so that I don’t have to.
Well just one place really, “Chuck E. Cheese’s” or as I like to call it, “Yuck E. Piece’s.”

When she came home after a field trip there she proudly announced, “Daddy, guess what? They built Chuck E. Cheese back after that fire you said burned it down! Hooray!!”

I keep wondering if she would believe it caught fire again.

Summer Camp has different themes daily and today was “When I grow up…” Day. The kids had to draw a picture of what they wanted to be when they grow up, then at the end of the day dress in that role and then talk about why they chose it.
So of course these were lots of Doctor’s, Astronauts, Football Players, Magicians, Singer’s, Musician’s, Teachers, Artists, etc.
My daughter held out her rolled picture of what she wanted to be and eagerly asked me to open it.
I kept wondering which of the many things it was as she’s had quite a career range these past few years: Artist (just like Daddy!), Ballerina, A Pink Truck (when she was nearly 3), Teacher, and most recently a Veterinarian.

Nope, none of it - she wants to be a cleaning lady:

(Actual drawing is on the wall at Camp, but will be posted… )

When I asked her what happened to a career in the field of Veterinarian arts, she said that she changed her mind because if a Tiger came in she would be scared and cry.

And cleaning ladies get to use vacuums, just like the ones they use in Summer Camp.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Seriously! Stop Growing…

It's that time of year again - my annual letter to my daughter on her birthday.

Happy 6th birthday Miss Bean! Or as you call yourself, “Gillian with a G” followed with hands on your hips.

Just a few things you did this past year that I’m going to remember forever:

• After your first day of Kindergarten announcing to your mother and I that you were changing your name to “Jessica.”
• Your immense love and affection for your baby brother and being his tour guide through life.
• Your imaginary sisters Sauna and Nana have grown up and you don’t need to talk to them as often as you once did.
• How amazing you did at your ballet recital.
• Starting school in Kindergarten, moving up to 1st grade work by November, and entering 2nd grade in the Fall. Remarkable and a bit frightening for me.

Your favorite things at this moment:

• Your new American Girl doll, “Jessica.”
• Loving the same movies as Mommy, from “Meet Me In St. Louis” to “Xanadu.”
• Reading to your baby brother and some of your stuffed animals too.
• Playing games on the iPad together.
• Horseback riding, ice skating, and golf lessons (phew!)
• Drawing together and making crafts/gifts for friends.
• Sleepovers with your friends and staying up ‘really late’, like 9:00.
• Your favorite restaurant, Souplantation, still!
• Doing volunteer work for kids in other countries.
• Making everything into a game from walking, to riding in the car or airplane, or just simply sitting somewhere.

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 “I’m 6! Can I get a dog and a cell phone now?!”

I’m going to miss the fun we had together when you were 5, but I’m looking forward to what new memories await us all at 6. 


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A Summer to Remember and It's Not Even Half-Way Finished

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written, but lots of things have been going on. So far, it’s been a strange summer. Some good things are happening and some, well…challenging doesn’t even come close to describing it.

Why Me?
I had to lay somebody off from work today. It was probably the second worse day of my life as I’ve met his spouse and son many times at work. The guy isn’t a bad person either; he’s friendly and a hard worker. It’s just a matter of bad timing, his role, intense pressure from executive management, and a bad economy - which seems to be getting worse by the month.
Since my boss left earlier in the year and I stepped up to replace him leading a group of 28 I can’t help but wonder if I made the right decision. It sure seemed like the right one at the time with the team backing me up and the support of new executive management. Things seemed to be going really well for a few months - my projects were all in an upswing and morale seemed to be at a high. Then about 3 weeks ago finance jumped in and started asking me on multiple occasions to justify every single person for each project in the foreseeable future, on my already lean group.
So far, I’ve managed to save more than they’ve asked me to cut, which to some outside of my team is an absolute miracle compared to other groups.
But I keep wondering what other miracles I’m able to pull off in the next 12 months, especially when every business decision I make can end up costing a whole lot of jobs next year.
That pressure alone is breaking me.

A Test for Raising a Teenage Daughter
My 16-year-old niece is out visiting for a month from Ohio and has been watching my nearly 6-year-old daughter while out here. Within 3 days she made friends with nearly every single teenager within 6 blocks from our home. Maybe even further, I’m still trying to figure that out. My parent challenge started at day 3 when at 10PM at night she asked if she could go to a friends’ house to hangout. This was on a Thursday and 10PM at night. I asked whose house it was and then went over with her to talk to the neighbor, who we (thankfully) know. Other days, I come home and there are 4 kids in the house -thankfully, no boys – my rule.
Seems like most days she’s hanging out at the pool for 2-3 hours with friends and strange guys are texting her late at night or she’s getting free ice cream and such because she’s “made friends with the guys that work there.”

I swear, I do NOT want my daughter to ever be a teenager. As a Dad, my stomach turns worried whenever my niece is out.
I emailed with my brother-in-law a week ago and he said she’s the reason his hair has fallen out.
Overall, she’s a really sweet kid. Problem is I still see her as that 2, 3, 5-year old years ago… but just taller.

6 going on 16
My daughter turns 6 this weekend and because she’s been hanging out with her older cousin she’s now really into music by people I’ve never heard of - she really wants feathers in her hair like the other teenage girls around us and she’s asked if she could get a cell phone for her birthday.

I need a summer vacation.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

OMG! I’m at E3!

In case you don’t know what's an "E3", let me inform you. That’s the big Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka, annual video game show) going on in downtown L.A. this week.
My wife was with me so it was a little awkward since it seemed as if about 4% of the attendees were woman, and about 2% of those women were so-called “booth babes” Translation – chicks dressed up in crazy costumes. So I heard a whole lot of, “what the heck is she wearing?” and, “I can literally see that woman’s butt cheeks.”

Of course I had to confirm. A few times.

This isn’t my first visit to this expo. Actually my first was way back in 1995 and it’s a little disappointing seeing that the vast majority of games still being featured are hard-core FPS “shoot them up’s” with zombie’s, rogue soldiers from the future, and chicks with augmented everything – obviously from selective radiation.
Very few games for families and the rest of the world on Facebook, iPhone, and iPad.

Anyhow, some things I came across:

I use to watch that TV series "Glee" (yeah, I know judge me...) but I don't anymore because the show just went downhill this year. The character "Coach BEAST" was making an appearance to say hello and maybe do a little dance number. Unfortunately I missed it because there were food trucks outside.

I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter series and I'm currently playing Lego Harry Potter years 1-4 on the iPad, which is a MUST if you have an iPad. I was thrilled to see years 4-7 coming out. No mention of when it'll be released on iPad/iPhone.

Nintendo looked as if they landed a spaceship in the building. I've never seen an exhibit this large before. It must have been the length of a football field! I'm only assuming because I actually don't know the true length of a football field. (If that statement come as a shock to you, please refer to my posting of, "Men are from Mars, In-Laws are from Uranus.")

Nintendo just announced something called a Wii-U, which was basically larger than an iPod Touch, not as big as an iPad, but connected to the TV, but it's going to be $250, and you can't use it away from the TV or it'll get angry and explode and then you'll have to spend another $250. But the most important takeaway was that the games weren't at all impressive. In fact, I had no idea why they put a screen on the little Wii-U when you're obviously looking at the TV.
I waited in line for a Wii years ago (refer to my post of "Being up at 5AM isn't what it used to be.") but it's evident I won't be waiting in line for this thing.

XBox Kinect is something I've heard a lot about, but have never actually seen or had interaction with. I've been avoiding it on purpose because quite honestly, I hate Microsoft. If they were a person, they would be Kevin Costner in Robin Hood (Worse. Movie. EVER.) But my mind has now somewhat changed. This Kinect business is pretty amazing! It literally does a pretty good job of tracking every single movement you do - and it shows your bad self on a little window in Airport Screener X-ray format. In a way, it was both creepy and playfully satisfying. I think we may end up getting one and I may end up getting a TSA costume too!

I have no idea what these things were running around in the entrance or what they were promoting. But would you believe me if I told you their butt cheeks were showing?

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Elvis Impersonator at My Son’s 1st Birthday Party

About 5 year’s ago, I wondered if my crazy vision of the ultimate 1st birthday party went a little too far when I hired an Elvis impersonator for my daughter’s 1st birthday party.
When I initially mentioned it to my wife she thought I went completely crazy – something I found ironic since she’s a huge Lionel Richie fan.

Nevertheless to my, and her, amazement Elvis was a huge success. Not only did the parents have fun, but the kids found him extremely entertaining too. They danced around, sang, and were all doing those weird Kung-Fu poses along with him.

It was pretty spectacular.

When the show was over and the guests were leaving, I distinctly remember telling myself, smiling proudly with my arms crossed, “Tony, you done good. Real good. Elvis is MUCH better than a clown, magician, or Bruce Lee impersonator any day.”

Fast forward to about a month ago when my wife asked me if I was going to call the same Elvis impersonator for our son’s 1st birthday party. I wondered – is this now a family tradition that every child from this time forward, generations ahead, should have Elvis at their 1st birthday?

I should hope so.

Last weekend Elvis came, Kunged-Fu’d, and raised the hypothetical roof once again. It was all even more spectacular the second time around.
Then when the show was over and all the guests were leaving, I smiled proudly with my arms crossed and began to tell myself one more time, “Tony, you done good…” the wife interrupted with, “do you think they have Lionel Richie impersonators?”

I hope not. Because that’s COMPLETELY crazy!

"Don't worry little buddy, Daddy will make sure this is a Lionel Richie free zone..."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Minimum Age to Have a Baby?

My daughter has been asking all kinds of curious questions lately.

I’m not exactly sure what’s sparked the interest these past few weeks - maybe kids just get extra inquisitive towards the end of the school year. I keep wondering if, while they play around in the sand discuss things like, “What do you think Microsoft is going to do with Skype after the acquisition?” Or “What about those Medicare costs?” or maybe even, “Why doesn’t your Dad like the Beatles or Kevin Costner?”

All easily answerable, but yesterday she threw me through me off a bit:

Daughter: “Daddy, when can I have a baby?”

I stopped for a second, literally put my index finger to my chin, and looked up as if the answer where written somewhere on the ceiling.
My immediate thought was definitely not like most of my cousins on my biological mother’s side of the family – but we see them on occasion and that would be really awkward if she happened to say anything about that conversation.
While waiting she followed up with something more specific:

Daughter: “Like, how old do I have to be?"

Me: “At least 30. And you have to have graduated from college, have a good job, and be married to somebody I say is OK to marry. All in that order. Now let’s go get some ice cream!”

Then while eating Popsicles she asked why Daisy Dukes with bikinis on top melted Popsicles.

I told her it was Mommy’s turn to answer a question.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Babyproofing the Baby

It wasn’t until this past Easter weekend when my 11-month old son started getting into the trash, pulling over chairs, and pretty much anything else that’s about 24 inches from the floor that I realized I’ve gotten pretty laid-back about “babyproofing” the house.

My wife and I are nowhere as scared with the second kid as we were with the first. With our daughter we pretty much babyproofed 99.9% of the house with about every gadget or contraption possible that placed panic or fear on us. It’s hard to believe that at one time, it was possible to run through our house, with shiny scissors, drunk, on fire, and not get hurt.

Yes, those were the days where we would take some serious trips to the local “Baby’s R Us” and head straight for the new parent “fear-gear” aisle and pretty much fill the cart with gadgets, padding, industrial-grade airbags, and Houdini locks worried that if we didn’t cover every corner of the house…. the refrigerator might somehow get accidentally pulled over and kill the entire neighborhood.

How were we to know? The packages they came in or some article we read might of sited some study that proved “million’s of baby’s” were tragically killed from falling refrigerators on the Fourth of July.

It wasn’t until we gained experience with our first and couldn’t open anything ourselves for actual use or enjoyment, and looked like we ran a padded home for crazy people, that we realize how truly stupid those things were.

Now a bit wiser in the ways of parenthood, I realize now that there’s only really one true way to babyproof a house:

Use lots of duct tape.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Magical Birthday and My iPad 2 with a few ‘Apps for Kids’ Disappears…

To be honest, I was not looking forward to my birthday this year. I mean this past year alone has been the absolute worst health-wise, ever!
A horrible case of chicken pox last summer that left me out of commission for nearly 5 weeks and destroyed my immune system. Multiple cardiologist visits and tests, and then a ‘bout with pneumonia a few weeks ago …it’s just all downright depressing.
Getting old is freaking me out so much now that I find myself always wondering, “What’s going to happen to me this year?” I’ve never been like that.

Some observant friends caught on to this suspicious behavior of mine and invited my wife and I to the Magic Castle in Hollywood to celebrate my birthday. It really was a great start on a road to recovery of some sort.
If you’ve never heard of this place, it’s basically a real-life Hogwarts, except this castle was founded in the 1960’s, not 9th century, with cheesy decorations, and magicians not wizards roaming around entertaining cocktail-attired guests. And maybe about 10 bars just about every 50 feet from each other.
I’m sure if Harry had gone to school there, he would have one serious drinking problem.

The other component of a recovery was getting an iPad 2, with one of those nifty magnetic magical covers on it for my birthday!
I never really understood the full use of this thing – is it taking over the place of my laptop or my iPhone? And I didn’t get one last year because I learned my lesson from buying a 1st generation iPhone in 2007, the 2nd version was 4 times cooler than the original.
I’ve now come to find out that the iPad basically took over all of the time I did read an actual book or maybe magazine before going to bed and even the little TV I did watch. I literally watch no traditional TV anymore (Hulu yes!)

The other 90% when the thing is on my daughter has it. She’s basically taken over the device - desktop, created folders, has her Pandora stations, Netflix streaming set up to watch Scooby Doo, Spongebob, and Strawberry Shortcake. She’s 5! Not even 6 quite yet.

Although, my wife did help her set up YouTube to old musical numbers, and of course, she’s been playing that crazy Smurf game. I swear Apple is marketing to the wrong demographic for this thing - it should really be kids.
The thing is MUCH better than getting a kid a laptop/computer, as in parental controls, and knowing what they’re playing with. And the games/apps I’ve found for it have been incredible. Loads of quality educational, creative, and learning stuff that’s pretty cheap in price.
We were considering getting her a Leapfrog Leapster or even a DS for her upcoming birthday, but that’s pretty much out the door now since those cartridges cost so much ($20-40) and a much better equivalent app in iTunes from $0 to $6.

Some iPad apps I’ve found, so far, to be great for kids (5-7-ish):
  1. Math Bingo
  2. TeachMe Kindergarten/1st Grade
  3. StoryPatch
  4. Drawing Pad
  5. Learning to Draw is Fun
  6. Read Me Stories
  7. Toy Story Read Along
  8. Angry Birds RIO
  9. Fruit Ninja HD
  10. Toontastic
  11. Sock Puppets
  12. Pocket Frogs
  13. WordSearch Star Free
  14. MathGirl Number Garden (iPhone app running on iPad)
  15. Albert HD
  16. Stack the States
  17. Netflix
  18. NASA App HD
  19. Smurfs (my daughter insisted I put that on my list, just make sure you turn in-App purchases OFF. Settings/General/Restrictions, “Enable Restrictions”, In-App purchases “OFF.”)

Now that my daughter is finally asleep, I can finally play Words with Friends HD! By the way, if you play I’m “GjertsonB”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When Everything Seems to be Falling Apart…

There’s just something odd about getting really sick just before a birthday…

I was out of commission for a while with severe pneumonia. If you’ve never had it, consider yourself lucky because it just downright “sucks.”
From the loads of medications they put me on, to the weird feeling of pins in my chest while breathing, to waking up at 3:00AM completely awake and seeing (and sometimes looking forward to watching) “Saved by the Bell: The College Year’s” for an entire week -- it was just all enough to outright freak me out.

The entire experience was all a bit ironic as one long time friend was just diagnosed with leukemia last November, but is thankfully on the mend, and another had pneumonia nearly a year ago and was even hospitalized for it.
I remember thinking on those occasions – “Wow! When did we get so old that stuff like this can just happen seemingly out of nowhere?” I’m not even 40 yet! What’s going to happen then? Hair loss and maybe my colon falls out when enjoying a KFC Sunday bucket?

God, I hope not. I just want to enjoy my chicken in peace.

Now I’m wondering when we’re all at the point when we’re comparing war stories with each other of how many meds we’re on, how many days we’ve been hospitalized in just the past 6 months, and who can shoot lasers out of their eyes with all of the robotic pieces inside of them.

Come to think of it, I really wouldn’t mind laser-shooting eyes. That would actually be kind of cool.

So tell me folks, what ails have you had and lived to tell about? But most importantly did Zack and Kelly ever get married?

Friday, March 04, 2011

MISSING: My Daughter’s 2 Imaginary Friends!

A funny thing happened when my son was born 9 months ago - my daughter’s 2 longtime colorful imaginary friends, “Sauna and Nana” just sort of disappeared.

I’m actually a little sad about this discovery because I really enjoyed hearing their stories of globetrotting the world in an instant. Their superhuman abilities to stay up late every night and never get tired or cranky. Their super advanced skin that never required bathing and could still remain cleaner than a sink. Their mysterious ability to eat candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but still have spotless teeth and a thriving immune system.

I was even fond of their parents, Chuck and Doris (I swear she made those up on her own) but sadly never had a chance to meet because they worked for all sorts of famous people like, the Wiggles, the Doodlebops, Lionel Richie, and as of last year Justin Bieber.

When I inquired as to their whereabouts at dinner tonight my daughter said with confidence that the last time she saw them they were going to get candy in Paris but never came home.

Maybe they got lost in Ohio?

So I put together this MISSING IMAGINARY FRIENDS poster hoping we could find them:

"Missing Imaginary Friends Poster" (click to print)

And since we’re looking for Sauna and Nana, my daughter was hoping to find her MISSING UNICORN she lost last year at IKEA as well:

"Missing Unicorn Poster" (click to print)

And since we’re open to helping friends, I hear Lionel could use some help too:

Are you looking for Lionel Richie?
"Hello, Is it me you're looking for?"
(click to print)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When you give a 5-year old an iPhone…

She’ll ask for some games just like the ones on the phones of her friends’ parent’s.

She’ll play a game called “Smurfs' Village” and “accidently” buy $10 worth of Smurberries because her father just downloaded the game for her 10 minutes earlier.

After awhile she’ll ask for more Smurfberries so Smurfette can have a house to live in.

He’ll say “no” approximately fifty times and ask what happened to the other Smurfberries.

She’ll stop asking because she’s discovered Angry Birds. Then she’ll ask him to buy the Mighty Eagle that some kid told her about.

Her father will say “no” approximately fifty more times.

Then she’ll discover the phone’s camera and take about 2,000 pictures in roughly 30 minutes with a Polaroid app called “Shake-it Photo” primarily because she has to shake the pictures to see them.

Her father finds them entertaining, chooses a few to post, and attach titles to them.

“The Day the World was Photographed after I bought $10 Worth of Smurfberries”

"Victims of the housing crisis"

"Excessive Neighbor Girl"

"School Reform Bear"

"Stinky Blanket"

"Angry Elephant waiting for iPad 2"

Then the 5-year old went to bed, but before she lays her hear down she'll ask her father to harvest her Smurfs' village potatoes while she's asleep.