Thursday, December 31, 2009
I've had 4,578 bad ideas in my life. To name a few: buying Lisa a home botox kit for her birthday, trying to flip homes in the Las Vegas area for the past three years, and investing money in a company coming out with thong dental floss. Tonight I just added another.
Since we are planning to leave Sacramento in a few days, I'm trying to figure out a way to pack everything up efficiently since we will probably bring back more than we took up. I realized if we had more room in our backseat then that would solve our problem. But we of course have two car seats and a keg taking up our entire backseat.
So my brilliant mind went to work and I came up with the solution: we could pack one of our kids in a box! Since Andrew is the smaller of our two kids, I thought I would do a trial run with him. Unfortunately, it didn't work out so well. Take a look...
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Unfortunately, Crazy Grandma and Lazy Grandpa are a little under the weather. Despite all of Crazy Grandma's germ avoidance methods (i.e. constant cleaning, washing hands, the installation of a sprinkler system that sprays a mist of bleach in the house every five minutes), sometimes you just can't hide from a virus.
Since Crazy Grandma does not want to get the kids sick, she started to wear a medical face mask around the house. When the kids first saw Crazy Grandma with the mask on they were rather confused and raised an eyebrow at her appearance. As a matter of fact, I raised an eyebrow too because it was rather frightening. No joke...take a look:
Since the kids seemed so concerned about Crazy Grandma's appearance, I thought I would allay their terror by explaining to them why Crazy Grandma had a mask on.
"Don't worry," I told the kids. "Grandma is okay. Do you think she looks funny?"
Both of the kids said, "Yaaaaah."
"Grandma is a little sick so she doesn't want you to get sick, ok?"
Both of the kids said, "Ooookaaaay."
"Andrew, do you know what's on Grandma's face?"
Andrew didn't answer. Probably still in shock.
"Emma, do you know what's on Grandma's face?"
Emma thought a little bit. And then she said, "Diaper!"
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Since Crazy Grandma is still on the topic of Andrew's juice, I thought I'd share with you my latest amusement with the kids' journey towards clear enunciation. Although Emma is still ahead of Andrew with language development, they both can string words together in order to tell us what they want. It's a bit like a really lame Mad Lib: I want (noun).
Emma and Andrew know that every afternoon after they wake up from their nap they receive a watered-down cup of apple juice. As I was preparing their juice, I asked if they were excited for it and to my ear each time the kids asked for juice it sounded like they were saying, "Jews." I did not have my trusty camcorder with me, but the conversation I had with the kids went something like this...
"Hey kids! Do you know what I'm going to give you?" I asked.
The kids shouted together, "Jews!"
"Do you want juice, Emma?"
Emma said, "I want jews!"
"How about you, Andrew?"
Andrew chanted, "Jews! Jews! Jews!"
I gave them their sippy cups, and they sat on the couch to watch a few episodes of Seinfeld. And as usual, the kids came to me afterwards and asked for more juice.
"Dada! More jews," asked Emma.
"I'm sorry, Emma. No more juice for today."
Andrew sadly said, "No more jews..."
After a while, I swear I felt like I was watching a preschool presentation of Schindler's List. All I needed to do was put Andrew in a baldcap and teach him how to say, "The list is life." I'm sure all I will hear for the longest time is the kids asking for apple jews, but it's a lot better than hearing them ask for a big black clock.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Last week, I asked you to find as many Stephen King references in our holiday newsletter. The poll was a roaring success as evidenced by the grand total of ONE person voting. A new poll record! One hundred percent of that one person who voted thought there were under seventeen Stephen King references in the newsletter. Well, sorry to disappoint you my lonely voting friend, but there are actually 24 Stephen King references.
Here are the references:
1) The state of Maine -- many of Stephen King's books take place in Maine.
2) Apt Pupil -- novella/movie
3) Insomnia -- novel
4) Graveyard Shift -- short story/movie
5) Misery -- novel/movie
6) Needful Things -- novel/movie
7) Trucks -- short story
8) Firestarter -- novel/movie
9) The Green Mile -- serial novel/movie
10) Christine -- novel/movie
11) Four Past Midnight --- novel
12) 1408 -- short story/movie
13) The Mist -- novella/movie
14) Cell -- novel
15) The Running Man -- novel/movie
16) Desperation -- novel
17) Portland, Maine -- Stephen King's birth place
18) Overlook Drive -- The hotel in The Shining was called the Overlook
19) Storm of the Century -- novel/mini-series
20) Cujo -- novel/movie
21) Crazy Grandma breaking through the bathroom door -- reference to The Shining
22) Diaper Champ spilling on top of Crazy Grandma -- reference to pig blood spilling on Carrie
23) Puking chain reaction -- reference to Stand By Me
24) Moving to Mexico -- reference to the end of The Shawshank Redemption
Perhaps there were not more votes because I was told by a friend that she was not a big Stephen King fan. So the next time I'll try to reference a writer who is much more well-respected and popular. Maybe someone like Perez Hilton or Sarah Palin...
Since arriving in Sacramento, Crazy Grandma has been generous with her advice on how to raise children. Very generous with advice. Very, very generous. So extremely generous that I have stabbed both of my ears with ice picks...and I can still hear her telling me advice.
A few days ago, a situation with Andrew occurred that Crazy Grandma has still not let go. I'll try to recount it for you with as little bias as possible (although it may be difficult since I am correct). Once a day, Emma and Andrew receive their sippy cup of apple juice. It's not really much juice because all we do is put a splash of apple juice into a cup full of water. Imagine peeing into a lake and you get the idea.
Late in the afternoon, Andrew finished his sippy cup of juice and asked for more. I told Andrew that he could have more water, but he had his juice for the day. Andrew began to cry. I filled his cup with water, and Andrew grew angrier when he realized there was no juice. He probably cried for a good 3-5 minutes before he stopped and drank his cup of water.
So what's the problem besides us being too cheap to give our kids an actual cup of apple juice? Crazy Grandma believes I was too strict and should've given Andrew more juice. I believe I did nothing wrong, and I did not want to get into a bad habit of Andrew thinking he can get what he wants by crying. What do you think?
Sunday, December 27, 2009
When we visit my family in Sacramento, there are several things we do after we put the kids to sleep: play card games, mock Crazy Grandma, or watch movies. My dad is pretty open to most movies, but Crazy Grandma is a tougher cookie to crack. Although one of Crazy Grandma's favorite movie is Face/Off ("So cleeeever! Dey switch face!"), her taste tends to point towards the wholesome and entertaining. She really loves comedies, but frowns upon nudity, language, and sex. So with that criteria I decided the family would watch the classic cinematic comedy...The Hangover.
Watching a movie with Crazy Grandma is always an experience because she loves to talk. She'll comment on confusing plot points ("Wait! Dat woman a man?"), things she likes that has nothing to do with the movie ("I rike parrots!"), and ask for a summary because she dozed off ("Wha happen? I fall sleep!"). So I decided I would type some of the commentary she spewed off while watching The Hangover. Enjoy!
ON SCREEN: Doug, the groom, is getting fitted for his tuxedo.
CRAZY GRANDMA SAYS: "Who dat? Why he wear suit?"
ON SCREEN: Alan, the brother-in-law, shows his butt while getting fitted for his tuxedo.
CRAZY GRANDMA SAYS: "Ah! Why do I need to see butt? If I waz in movie theatah, his butt would be so big on movie screen! I no want to see dat? Ack!"
ON SCREEN: Someone is peeing.
CRAZY GRANDMA SAYS: "Bathroom scene? Why they show him pee? I don't want to see his thingy pee!"
THIRTY FIVE MINUTES INTO THE MOVIE...
CRAZY GRANDMA SAYS: "Is this rated R?"
ON SCREEN: Mr. Chow jumps out of a car naked.
CRAZY GRANDMA SAYS: "Dis crazy! What he do in car naked? Ack! You see everything! hmm..kinda small. HAHAHA!"
ONE HOUR INTO THE MOVIE...
CRAZY GRANDMA SAYS: "Hey? Where did the groom go? Why he no with his friends?"
ON SCREEN: The friends are winning money at blackjack.
CRAZY GRANDMA SAYS: "Did you put cream on Emma after you change her diapah? She get rashy. You need to make sure you put lot of cream on her because her skin very sensahtive."
Eat your heart out, Roger Ebert!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
December is such a busy and stressful month because of all the holidays. The month started off with National Pie Day which I did not enjoy since I was in such a crusty mood. December 7th was Pearl Harbor Day or as I call it 'The I-Am-Not-Japanese-But-Rather-Chinese Day.' On December 17th, we celebrated National Maple Tree Syrup Day, but it conflicted with a prior social commitment so that was a sticky situation. And December 25th was of course Christmas.
Although we have only experienced a handful of Christmases with the twins, I am beginning to realize that there is something unique about it. Despite the urging of our friends and families to make sure we allow our kids to develop their own personalities and quirks, this advice seems to get thrown out the window because there are two key words that come into play at Christmas when you have twins: sharing and matching.
When the kids receive one gigantic gift, this means they are going to have to share it. Examples of these gifts would be something like ball pits, pretend gardening sets, or a live donkey. Sharing is obviously something that our kids will need to master, but children do not learn to share until the age of seven or eight. So this means Lisa and I will have to put up with five or six years of the kids fighting over balls, hoes, and asses.
As for matching gifts, I don't mean the exact same toy for each kid. I mean something along the lines of Emma getting a Minnie Mouse doll and Andrew getting a Mickey Mouse doll. Or Emma getting a Lego dollhouse set and Andrew getting a Lego Star Wars set. Or Emma getting boxing gloves and Andrew getting a first aid kit.
There was one matching gift the kids received that struck me a little odd. Cousin Jamie gave the kids pretend playsets. Andrew got a doctor's playset with a personalized name tag that says Doctor Andrew; Emma got a McDonald's playset with a personalized name tag that says, "Would you like fries with that?" I don't know if this is suppose to imply their future career, but at least Andrew will know where to go if he ever wants a burger and Emma will know where to go if she ever wants to unclog her arteries.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
By Stephen King
“Dat is wight,” said Crazy Grandma. “Since we have failed az pawents of Scotty and Annie, we see An-doo an Emma az our salvashun. Every day when we babysit dem, we taught dem to poison your watah bottles wid psychotic drugs. Dat way you wood be unfit parents and we can take kids. Un-four-too-knat-ree, I no know you no drink watah so our plan fail.”
“That’s right,” answered Lisa. “I only drink vodka and gin.” For once, Lisa’s alcoholism saved the family.
Scott and Lisa grabbed the kids and hid in the bathroom. Scott locked the door and shoved as many things against the door for protection. But Crazy Grandma began stabbing the door with her Swifter pole. She broke through.
“Heeeeeere’s Craaaaazy!” said Grandma peeking through the door. As she entered, the Diaper Champ on top of the door tipped and spilled all of its contents on top of Crazy and Lazy.
Crazy Grandma has a severe case of eczema. All of the urine, feces, and diaper chemicals began to eat through her skin. As for Lazy Grandpa, he just stood in the stench because, well, he’s lazy. The smell of the room caused a chain reaction of puking. Scott, Lisa, Emma, and Andrew crawled out of the bathroom to safety.
At the reading of the will, Crazy Grandma and Lazy Grandpa had actually won millions of dollars at the Indian casinos, but chose to keep it a secret. With Scott’s inheritance, he decided to pack it up and take the family out of the country.
Scott remembered his friend, Andy, gave him an open invitation to visit him in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. With winters being a chilly reminder of excrement and eczema, this would be the perfect escape. So the Ichikawas once again packed their bags and moved to tropical Mexico…where they would never have to endure another cold winter.
HOW MANY REFERENCES CAN YOU FIND?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The Ichikawa Holiday Newsletter
By Stephen King
While driving through the morning mist, Lisa wanted Scott to get on the cell and tell his parents about the move, but he did not want to deal with the drama. If Grandma Ichikawa found out, Scott would be a crazed running man trying to stay away from the reach of a psychotic Japanese woman with desperation in her almond-shaped eyes.
The Ichikawas made it to their new home in Portland, Maine. Lisa soon found work at a charter school called The School for New Englanders Who Have Never Met an Asian Woman. Scott set up his office and began work on the blog. But there was something about this house on Overlook Drive that started to do things to his already demented sanity.
Around Christmas, Scott’s erratic behavior intensified. Lisa broke the promise she made to Scott: she called Crazy Grandma for help. When Crazy Grandma received the call, she grabbed Lazy Grandpa, left the Indian casino, and flew to Maine despite warnings of the storm of the century.
The next day, Lisa heard a panicked knock at the front door. It was Crazy Grandma.
“Cu-jo! Cu-jo!” she screamed.
Although Lisa feared a rabid dog, there was nothing to fear. Due to the cold weather and Crazy Grandma’s Japanese accent, she was just trying to say, “Cup o joe! Cup o joe!”
Lisa took Crazy Grandma and Lazy Grandpa to see their son. Scott cursed Lisa for inviting them over because he was trying to protect the family from them.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
NOTE: Over the next three days, I will post the holiday newsletter we sent out this year. There are a bunch of Stephen King references scattered through it. Try to find them all!
Happy holidays! We hope this is not impersonal, but our lives are so much more important and busy than yours that we’ve asked a friend to write our holiday newsletter. Don’t take it personally. We probably don’t even remember your name.
The Ichikawa Holiday Newsletter
By Stephen King
The Ichikawas grew tired of the frigid Los Angeles winters: they decided to move to Maine. Perhaps the Ichikawas would not have moved to Maine if they had known this would be their last cold winter.
Scott and Lisa had a very typical year. Lisa continued teaching kindergarten inspiring each of her students to be apt pupils. Scott worked on the third season of Californication and filled out the year with a few television pilots. Between Lisa’s bouts of insomnia and Scott’s occasional graveyard shift, they realized they were living a life of misery. Every family wants needful things, but this was no way to raise a family.
Emma and Andrew turned two in September and their personalities are developing every day. Andrew loves cars and trucks, and he is a tiny ball of energy. Emma can be the sweetest girl, but cross her the wrong way and watch her set the room on fire. But they are both great kids who are learning to talk, love to play, and have even learned to pour water for their parents.
While walking the green mile – the distance between the changing table and the Diaper Champ – Scott realized his family needed to leave Los Angeles. Lisa could teach anywhere, and he could devote his time to his popular blog. At last count, the blog had a whopping 1,408 hits. Four past midnight, he packed up the Plymouth Fury and was ready to drive out the next day.
PART TWO TOMORROW...
Monday, December 21, 2009
Last week I asked what we should do when Emma hits Andrew. Fifty-four percent thought we should put her in a corner for punishment. Great idea except we live in a cylindrical building. Twenty-seven percent thought there's nothing we can do about because it's part of their development, but we should still keep an eye on it. I think that's another way for saying bystander apathy.
Right now, we are trying to use different methods to keep Emma from beating up her brother. When I catch her smacking him around, I break it up and calmly explain to Emma that she should not hit. And then I tell Emma to say sorry and give him a hug. If she continues to hit him, I'll pick her up and take her to another part of the room and once again explain why it is wrong to hit. And if that still doesn't work, I'll tell Emma to hit Lisa instead.
Every year, we send out two holiday card versions. One is your standard photo card of the kids; this is for our family members. The other version is the one we send to our friends that make them wonder whether or not I'm mentally unstable. For example, before we had Emma and Andrew, Lisa and I sent out holiday cards with a fake family. We used Lisa's friend's kids and created this entire family history for four years.
This year we sent out holiday newsletters with the conceit that we're so busy we didn't have time to write our own newsletter. So we asked our friend, Stephen King, to write it for us. The newsletter incorporates fact, fiction, and references to a bunch of Stephen King novels, short stories, and movies.
Since we will be leaving for our Northern California trip any day now, I won't have internet access for about a week. Because of that, I thought I would post the entire newsletter in three parts over the next three days. So how does the poll get incorporated into this? I want you to tell me how many Stephen King references you can find! Better yet, leave a comment and list all of the references you can find. Good luck!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
We were planning to leave today for our Northern California trip, but there was something that was running that prevented us from leaving: everyone's butts.
Well, my butt is fine (yet flat), but Lisa, Emma, and Andrew all got sick. A minus about being a teacher -- besides the lack of respect and compensation -- is that you tend to get sick a lot. Lisa has been fighting a bug for the past week or so, but the kids have been healthy...until yesterday.
At breakfast, the kids lacked an appetite which is highly unusual for them. About half an hour later, Andrew and Emma began walking around as if a water balloon burst in their pants. Oh only if it was just a water balloon!
Without going into too much detail, there is a certain amount of balance and dexterity needed to change an overflowing diaper. Removing the diaper reminds me of those cake competitions on the Food Network. There's that point in the show when the cooks have to move their gigantic cakes from their cooking counter to the display table. One false move and the whole thing collapses. The same thing goes with a wet, soiled diaper. Sadly, Lisa does not have much balance and dexterity because we had to wash the entire changing table after an unfortunate spill. There goes her Cirque du Soleil career.
Hopefully the kids will get better so we can make our way up to Northern California in the next day or so. Once the mudslides stop, that's when we'll make the trip. Until then, I guess it will be up to me to take care of the family and to take care of myself. Speaking of which, I think I'm going to go for a run.
No! Not that kind of run...
Saturday, December 19, 2009
We are still potty training the kids. They both have successfully pooped and peed in their potty seats several times, but it has been far from consistent. I've tried to show them how fun it is to use the potty seats, but I only embarrassed myself in front of them because I did not realize the baby potty seats would not hold my poop. We have a long way to go, but at least they no longer fear the seats.
Andrew finally peed in his potty seat a few weeks ago. He was taking a bath and then he held his junior privates and said, "Shi-shi!" Shi-shi is the Japanese equivalent of pee-pee. We've been trying to teach them the Japanese words for pee-pee and poo-poo. For some reason I think it is more acceptable for the kids to shout the Japanese version of these words in public. As I mentioned, pee-pee is shi-shi. The Japanese version of poo-poo is shitamapantsu. Hmm...maybe poo-poo would be better.
The problem we're having with Andrew is that he is telling us he has to go shi-shi all the time now. Every time he sits in his high chair, he shouts, "SHI-SHI!" In the beginning we were happy he was telling us, but then we realized it has become a ploy to postpone meal time. Pretty much any time he wants attention, he'll shout "SHI-SHI!" And he'll cry and fuss until we put him on the potty.
What reinforces this behavior is that we have tried to make potty time entertaining. We'll read books to the kids, inflate a moon bounce, and have pony rides (we have a big bathroom). I guess Andrew enjoys the activities associated with potty time so much that he asks for it by name now.
Lisa and I still aren't completely sure what to do about Andrew's behavior. We have started to tell him that he should only tell us he needs to sit on the potty when he really has to use it. I don't know whether he understands us, but the elaborate powerpoint presentation I showed him was useless. I guess we'll continue to put him on the potty when he asks for it, but emphasize that he has to pee or poop. And if that doesn't do anything, we'll just make him sit in his own urine..just like Lazy Grandpa.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
As of this past Monday, I am playing the role of Mr. Mom again. Much like new underwear, it takes a little adjustment to get used to, but after a few tugs here and there you get back in the swing of things.
It has been months since I've been a stay-at-home parent so I was curious to see what it would be like again. After a day or two, I was reminded of what it was like: exhausting. I've always joked with my co-workers that when I return back to work it's like vacation for me. You know what? It's not a joke. I'm serious. See my tears of horror and exhaustion?
Yet despite the tiring schedule, it really is nice to be able to stay home and raise your children. Lisa and I don't plan on having any other children because the two at home plus the dozens of illegitimate children on the streets are way more than enough. Because of that there's a slight bittersweet feeling of raising these kids because we will only be experiencing parenthood once. Might as well savor as much of the good and bad as you can.
On my first day back on the home turf, the kids were very sweet and welcomed me back with open arms. It touched me so that I made a little video of my homecoming. It's quite Norman Rockwell-esque. Get out the tissues and call the neighbors.