Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 700 - Poll Results & New Poll

Last week, I asked who you thought Emma looked most like: Crazy Grandpa, Auntie Anne (pretzel maven), Lisa, myself, or the Angry Little Asian Girl. It was pretty close, but forty-five percent of you voted that Emma looks most like Lisa. And right behind with thirty-six percent was Auntie Anne (pretzel maven).

I can't tell you how glad I am the results skewed in favor of Lisa over my sister. I had flashes of Chinatown in my head when Auntie Anne (pretzel maven) was ahead in the polls. But what I think this poll cemented for me is that people will see who they know in the face of your child. Lisa's family will think Andrew looks like someone on their side of the family, and my family will think Emma looks like someone on their side of the family, and my many mistresses will think both kids look like someone on their side of the family.


Since I have been out of work for a few weeks, I have had more time to read and watch the news. I'm not a big news person, but it's nice to read the newspaper in the morning for a few minutes while the kids are eating versus skimming photos in Maxim. I have always found the immediacy and influence of the media to be more a pro than a con, but I do find it irritating when the news has to be simplified and dramatized. And this brings me to the H1N1 virus.

I've been keeping tabs on this whole H1N1 (aka swine flu) virus, and I've come to the personal conclusion that people are freaking out too much. First of all, why did we stop calling it the swine flu? Have we really crossed the line and insulted pigs too much? And now that we're calling it the H1N1 virus, will vowels get upset because they have not been properly represented? From everything I've read, the bottom line is that more people will get the flu this season, but there's no reason to freak out because as of now the symptoms are pretty much par on course with your typical flu. Statistically speaking, if they are assuming 90,000 people will die from this flu strain in the US, then based on the US population of 304 million, you have a .0002 chance of dying from it. And for comparison sakes that is the exact same chance I had in high school getting a date for the Senior Prom.

We are going to give Andrew and Emma their annual flu shots this month, but I'm wondering whether or not we should give them the shot for the H1N1 virus too. I know in the past there have been some problems with vaccinations, and is that a risk worth taking? What do you think?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 699 - Knee-dling Me

Generally speaking, Japanese aren't very hairy people. The only exceptions I can think of are Mothra, Pikachu, and my neighbor, Totoro. As for myself, I'm not a very hairy person either. I have hair where you're suppose to have hair (i.e. head, eyebrows, and what I like to call my own private Idaho.). But there is one place on my body that's a little hairier than usual: my knees.

I know when you first saw the picture on the right you immediately thought it was Lisa's back, but it's actually my left knee. As you can see, it's pretty hairy compared to the rest of my body. Sadly, when I wear shorts the two comments I receive are: 1) Your knees are hairy. 2) Why are you wearing pantyhose?

The reason I bring this up is because as I was sitting on our sofa, Emma discovered my hairy knees. She was innocently sitting on the floor and pulled herself up by grabbing onto my sculpted legs. When she stood up, her hands were on my knees. As she removed her hands, she began to stare at my knees and said, "...oooh..."

You'd think that would be enough, but you're wrong. Emma started to pull at my knee hairs as if she was playing with one of those Troll heads you put on the end of a pencil. She would try to fluff up my hairs over and over again. And when she became bored with that, Emma started to twist the hairs on my knee. If I knew my knee hairs would be such a great babysitter, I wouldn't have got them trimmed at Fantastic Sam's last week.

I have no idea what fascinated Emma with my knee hairs, but it kept her occupied for a good three to five minutes. I suppose the kids are just going through a phase where everything is a new discovery for them. Whether it is an ice cube melting or my unusually hairy knees, every day the kids are learning new things. And that is why after Emma grew bored of my hairy knees, I decided to pants Lisa so Emma could discover Mama's hairy ass.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 698 - It's A World of Laughter, A World of Tears...

This past Wednesday, we took the kids to their first trip to Disneyland. Many parents probably have idealized expectations when taking their children to the Magic Kingdom. But not me. When we finally decided to take Emma and Andrew to Disneyland, the first thing that popped into my head was the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan -- except with more screaming and torture.

Instead of getting to the park early, we decided to get there later in the afternoon so the kids could take a nap in the car during the drive to Anaheim. I believe living in Los Angeles takes an edge off Disneyland trips because when you're out of town, you have to get your money's worth. If you're visiting Disneyland from out of state, you're spending thousands of dollars on hotel, airfare, theme park tickets, mouse ears, and churros. But as a local Southern Californian, you don't feel the need to see every parade and get on every ride because you can always visit another weekend. So with the thousands of dollars Angelenos can save, we can spend it on other things like botox, tanning booths, and boob jobs.

The first thing that made the happiest place on earth a little crappy was where we had to park. If you're not familiar with Disneyland, it has one of the largest parking structures. It is six-levels and can park almost 11,000 cars. We parked on the fifth level and literally parked the farthest away from the elevator as possible. We parked on the very last aisle in the very last space in the farthest corner. To gain a little pity from you, here's a picture for you.

But once we got out of the parking structure, the rest of the way to the Disney Parks was a piece of cake. We just had to wait in line for a tram, take the kids out of their double stroller, squeeze into the tram with the kids and the folded double stroller, get out of the tram, put the kids back into the stroller, walk to the security checkpoint, wait in line for tickets, and then wait in line to enter the park. Yup. Happiest place on Earth...

Between Disney's California Adventure and Disneyland, we spent about seven hours at the parks. Here is a brief rundown of the attractions we did and Emma's and Andrew's reaction:

1) Playhouse Disney -- This was a 20 minute puppet show that showcased a bunch of Disney Channel television shows. Emma and Andrew enjoyed the music and the energy of the show quite a bit, but because of stupid me we almost missed the performance. I didn't take a good look at the map, and instead took the kids into the Playhouse 90 ride and watched animatronic performances of "The Miracle Worker", "Charley's Aunt", and "Massacre at Sand Creek".

2) Toy Story Midway Mania -- You take a 3-d ride through an interactive video game starring Toy Story characters. At first, Lisa and I were going to take turns riding this attraction, but the Cast Member at the front of the line said there's no height requirements and kids love the ride. So, Lisa and I looked at each other and had a telepathic conversation in which we both said, "Fine. We'll take the kids on the ride, but if it turns out to be a disaster, it's your fault." Amazingly, the kids were pretty good waiting in line for twenty minutes and the ride went off without a hitch. I don't know if the kids enjoyed the ride, but there were no tears or blood so I'll say it was a success.

3) Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage -- You board a submarine and go on an underwater adventure with all of your Finding Nemo friends. Once again, the kids were really good in line. And the kids really enjoyed the beginning of the ride when it was bright clear water with colorful fish. But then the ride got dark and noisy and actually scary. This was a big disaster. Andrew wasn't too bad, but I was holding Emma and she started to shout, "OUT! OUT! OUT!" I tried to calm her down, but this just further aggravated her and she shouted, "OUT, YOU SON OF A BITCH!" What I eventually did was turn Emma away from the portholes so she would not see the scary sharks. Pretty smart, right? Unfortunately, I forgot there were portholes on the other side of the submarine so Emma screamed nonetheless.

4) King Arthur's Carousel -- This is your typical merry-go-round ride, but since this was a new experience for Emma and Andrew, they loved it! Andrew loved the ride so much that he threw a fit when we had to drag him off the horse. Nothing says approval like a two year old's temper tantrum.

5) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh -- You board a beehive and travel through a series of scenes depicting the many adventure of Winnie the Pooh. This is a pretty harmless ride that the kids enjoyed. The ride vehicles bounced up and down, so they liked that movement. And unlike many of the Fantasyland dark rides, there's not a nightmarish scene like the Witch from Snow White, the whale from Pinocchio, or a naked Roseanne Barr from Home on the Range.

6) Space Mountain -- This is one of our favorite rides at Disneyland, but in retrospect, we probably shouldn't have snuck the kids on the ride in our fanny pack. The good news is that the bruising is almost all gone!

Overall, our first trip to Disneyland was much better than I expected. I suppose the one thing I learned from taking your kids to Disneyland is that they set the pace. You've got to be aware of their mood. Are they hungry? Are they thirsty? Are they tired? Are they afraid of the 7 foot tall Jafar character staring down their neck?

Finally, when taking your children to Disneyland you hope they had a good time. The day after, we asked the kids if they had fun at Disneyland. And they both said a resounding "Yah!" Emma even said for a few days, "I saw Mickey!" She also said, "Why the hell did you take us on that Finding Nemo ride, you dumbass?" But I'm just going to ignore that...

Here are a few pictures!

While waiting for the Playhouse Disney show to start, I challenged Lisa and Emma to see who could make bigger eyes.

Awww. They learn to steal so young.

From left to right: Lisa, horse, Andrew.

From left to right: jackass, Emma, horse.

We love Disney...and all of their other companies like ABC, ESPN, Pixar, and Marvel!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 697 - Picture Friday: Northern California Final Edition

From Nora Ephron comes the new hit movie "Julie & Julia & Emma".

Andrew tries on his new headphone. Git it? Wow...I got to get better jokes.

The secret to maintaining the distinct look to Asian eyes.

In order to calm Andrew down, Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse Auntie Susan uses chloroform.

"Hmm...which one has more?"

Andrew choked this green crayon until it turned blue.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 696 - Family Portrait Problems

Things have been busy since we've been back from our Northern California trip. I had to go into work for a few days, and we took a trip to Disneyland yesterday (Now do you understand the posting delays?). As soon as I muster a little more energy, this blog will hopefully be updated in a more timely manner.

Anyhoo, I was looking through the hundreds of photos we took during our vacation and noticed a long series of pictures that were our attempt at a family portrait. If you think it's hard enough to get one toddler to take a good picture, imagine how difficult it is to get two toddlers to cooperate. Despite my inherent Japaneseness at taking photos, it took a long time to get one decent photo of the Ichikawa family.

Here is just a small hint at the chaos that occurs when trying to get one good family picture:

Lazy Grandpa is napping, and Crazy Grandma is confused because she took out Christmas stickers.

Lazy Grandpa wakes up, but Andrew disappears.

Lisa tries to coax Andrew out of the closet with couscous.

A group photo is taken, but the kids look drunk (...actually, they are drunk...).

Where did Andrew go?

Oh...there he is.

We tell our uncooperative kids that if we don't get one good picture, we're never going to leave Crazy Grandma and Lazy Grandpa's house.

Cheese! Success! Except for Daddy's stupid smile...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 694 - Northern California Trip: Conclusion

During our stay in Sacramento, we had something planned practically every day. After our fun-filled romp at Fairytale Town, we had a couple of dinners with my relatives. On Friday night, we had dinner with Great-Grandma Ichikawa and my aunt and uncle. Then on Saturday night, we had dinner with more of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was great to see them all, but I've got to admit it is a pain in my flat ass to take the kids out to restaurants.

A note to all of you soon-to-be parents: it is much easier to go out to eat when your kids are infants than toddlers. When your kids are infants, you just plop that car seat on a chair or leave the kids at the coat check. If they start to cry, you pop in a bottle, a pacifier, or a wine cork. But it all changes when your kids are toddlers. They're old enough to feed themselves, but they're not old enough to behave. Although my aunts initially commented how well-behaved Emma and Andrew were, they had to eat their words soon after because the kids went on a rampage. They wanted out of their high chairs. They wanted to go in their high chairs. They threw crayons on the floor. They threw tofu on the table. It was like crack cocaine was distributed to a room full of ADHD patients.

On Saturday afternoon, we were invited to my friend's daughter's birthday party. It had a cooking theme and it was really well-done. All of the kids got personalized aprons and chefs hats as well as their own cookbook binder. Emma and Andrew also received acetylene torches to make creme brulee, but after their eyebrows got singed, we took them away.

The one thing that has been noticeable about Andrew is that he likes to get into other people's business. At the birthday party, there was another parent who had twins. During lunch, they had their double stroller next to their table. As I was looking for Andrew, I noticed him standing next to the stroller blabbering to these parents. A minute later, Andrew had his hands in the stroller fiddling with the straps. A few seconds after that, Andrew had half his body in the stroller with his legs flailing in the air. This boy knows nothing about personal space.

On Sunday morning, we went with Lazy Grandpa and Great-Grandma Ichikawa to a Farmer's Market. Great-Grandma Ichikawa received a $20 voucher for the Farmer's Market, and when you're 94 you don't let anything go to waste. The kids didn't really enjoy the organic variety of vegetables and fruit, but they did like walking around touching the assortment of flowers and plants. What was especially great to see is how peppy my grandma is. She now walks around with a cane for balance, but seeing her trot around made Lazy Grandpa look especially lazy. In just under sixty years, I will be 94, and I hope to be just as peppy. And although Lisa is older than me, in sixty years she will be 132, and I hope she will still be able to iron my shirts.

We left Sacramento for Los Angeles on Monday morning. While we were all eating breakfast on Monday, I jokingly said that maybe we could stay for a few more days. Crazy Grandma Ichikawa put down her spoonful of prunes and said, "Oh noooo! Yoooou can go home toooday! Dat long eeeenuf! Bye bye!"

I guess even Crazy Grandma Ichikawa knows when enough is enough.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 693 - Poll Results & New Poll

Last week, I asked whether we should take the kids to Disneyland. Sixty-eight percent of you voted we should take Emma and Andrew to the Happiest Place on Earth..for the ridiculously low price of $72 per person. The rest of you thought we should keep the kids home and have them play in what we call the Happiest Place on Earth: their cribs.

I think we will take the kids to Disneyland this week. My expectations are low, and I figure we can always leave early if we have to. I just don't want to be one of those parents you see at theme parks who are having just as a big a meltdown as their crying child. When I see parents yelling at their kids at Disneyland, I want to go up to them and tell them, "If you lay one more hand on your child, I am going to imagine that I'm going to beat you up, but I can't because I know I don't have the strength to fight you and even considering that you're a woman I'm pretty sure you could still beat me up." That'll show them!


Having returned from Northern California, it's funny to hear both sides of the family telling us who the kids look like. Generally, people say Andrew looks like me and Emma looks like Lisa. But sometimes it gets weird because people may say they look like a certain cousin or grandparent or deceased pet.

On my side of the family, Crazy Grandma Ichikawa told me that all of her friends think Emma looks like Lazy Grandpa Ichikawa. Auntie Anne (pretzel maven) told me that all of her friends think Emma looks like her...which really disturbed me in more ways than one. So what do you think? Who does Emma look like? I am giving you five choices to pick from...

A) Lazy Grandpa Ichikawa

B) Purported biological mother, Lisa.

C) Father of daughter despite questions of his virility, Scott.

D) Auntie Anne (pretzel maven)

E) Angry Little Asian Girl

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 692 - Couscous

Emma and Andrew are infatuated with Blue's Clues. If cartoon dog bestiality was legal (and possible), the kids would be all over it. For those of you not familiar with Blue's Clues, it is a Nick Jr. television show that teaches toddlers and preschoolers the virtues of acceptance and tolerance via a gay man and his gay dog, Blue. Or at least that's what I've interpreted about the show.

Every day, Emma and Andrew ask to watch "Couscous" on television. Sometimes Andrew is extremely incessant about it. He'll sit next to the DVD player and chant "cous cous cous cous cous cous cous cous cous cous cous..." In Sacramento, this prompted Crazy Grandma Ichikawa to cook five pots of couscous.

I do not know what is so entrancing about the show for Emma and Andrew, but for twenty-two minutes every day I experience pure bliss. And by bliss I mean silence, calm, and $2 prostitutes. After having seen several shows, I do believe it's a good show to have toddlers watch. It's cute, colorful, and gentle. The only annoyance is that anytime the kids see a group of circles together, they automatically think it's a Blue's clue. You try to keep your sanity together when walking past an aisle of polka dots with two kids yelling "COUS COUS COUS COUS COUS COUS!"

Here is a short video demonstrating the drama of watching a Blue's Clues episode.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 691 - Fairytale Town

When you live in Southern California, you are surrounded by multi-million dollar amusement parks. You have Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Hugh Hefner's grotto (I'd like a Fastpass for the grotto, please!). But when you're living in Sacramento the closest thing you have to an amusement park is one of two places: the Capitol and Fairytale Town.

Fairytale Town is a 2.5 acre children's play park that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. It opened its doors on August 29th, 1959 at a cost of $107,000 which is currently equivalent to the amount of money I spend yearly on Nair and Aspray. The whole concept behind Fairytale Town is to bring to life classic fairy tales like Mother Goose, Peter Rabbit, and Freddy Krueger. It's a cute place that can be enjoyed by everyone. Except pedophiles. You definitely don't want pedophiles at Fairytale Town.

Crazy Grandma Ichikawa was very excited to take Emma and Andrew to Fairytale Town. She took Auntie Anne (pretzel maven) and yours truly when we were little kids, so it's a little like that whole circle of life thing, but only if Simba gave birth to Japanese twins.

The whole family spent about an hour at the park, and the kids had a really good time. Here are a handful of pictures with appropriate captions...

The entrance to Fairytale Town. Notice the signs that warn you to duck your head underneath the low bridge. Obviously, the sign was not made for short Asian families.

The Little Engine That Could...not stop Andrew from reenacting the exciting climax to the runaway subway sequence in Spiderman 2.

Emma huffed and puffed and...ate all three little pigs.

This is either a Jack and the Beanstalk slide or the Jolly Green giant's aorta.

"Yo Ho! Yo Ho!" shouts Emma to grab Mommy's attention.

Jack and...


Andrew and Emma did not enjoy the Freddy Krueger Carriage of Blood ride.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 690 - Picture Friday: Northern California Edition

After Day 1, Emma is fed up and tries to walk home.

Andrew wishes his family had enough common sense that his 22 month old lungs can't blow out those damn candles.

Andrew is confused by the blue sugar frosting as Illogical Grandma Ichinaga whispers into his ear, "If you don't eat the frosting, I'm going to bite your head off."

AKA Emma loves Daddy.

"Is that plate mocking me?"

The kids grimace over the weight they have gained during their vacation.

"Crazy Grandma lives in a teepee? WTF?"

Evidence of Lazy Grandpa rubbing off on Emma.

Have a great weekend!