Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 1268 - He Writes the Songs

Cole Porter.  Stephen Sondheim.  Andrew Ichikawa.

Andrew's sophisticated palette for music and words inspired him to create a terrific ditty of a song.  For a three and half year old, I am quite impressed with his accomplishment.  Thank goodness for camcorders being on every possible device or else I would not have been able to capture this history in the making moment.

But let me stop influencing your opinion on Andrew's song.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to reveal Andrew's latest hit "The Itsy Bitsy Poopy".

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 1266 - Puppet Patsy

One of the difficulties I encountered with Andrew at preschool is that it is sometimes difficult for him to say goodbye.  I have tried speech therapy, but that has not worked. 

For the first month and a half of preschool, I would always say goodbye to him at the school yard gate.  As I closed the barbed wire/electrical security gate, Andrew would press his hands and face against the railing and wave goodbye to a jolt of electricity surged through his body.  He would remain at the gate until I turned the corner of the building and began running and screaming, "FREE AT LAST!"

But when I started work, I found out that they don't allow the kids to play outside at the beginning of the day.  Instead, they gather in a classroom and play inside until the yard is ready for the kids.  I asked a teacher why the kids can't play outside immediately and she mumbled something that sounded like homeless fecal matter.

Saying goodbye inside did not sit well with Andrew.  He was so used to the morning routine of saying goodbye at the gate that he began to throw fits every morning at school when we had to say goodbye inside the classroom.  I figured after a week, Andrew would get used to it; he did not. 

But I finally found an inside routine that makes Andrew happy.  One of the classrooms has a half door, and I use that as a puppet stage.  I crouch behind the door, raise my arm, and use my hand as a puppet to say goodbye to Andrew.

The first time I realized this was a success, I was pretty proud of myself.  I finally found a way to say goodbye to Andrew inside the preschool without him throwing a gigantic fit.  I imagined the preschool teachers were going to lift me into the air and declare me Parent of the Year.

But as the days turned into weeks, I began to feel a little foolish having to do this puppet show every morning.  There were a few times when I tried to sneak out, but Andrew would politely yell, "Daddy!  Puppet show, dammit!"

For some reason, I also feel like the teachers find me rather strange.  I doubt they have ever seen a father put on a puppet show every morning for their kid.  But perhaps I did go overboard one day when I performed the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan with some paper marionettes.

And then it dawned on me that who really cares what I think or other people think.  As long as you're able to make your kid happy, that's all that really matters.  It really sucked to see your kid's crying face as the last thing you saw before going to work.  It's so much better to see Andrew's big smile even if that smile is suggestively saying, "I love my dumbass dad!"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 1264 - Running Man

This past weekend, we took the kids to Santa Monica.  We usually grab a bite to eat and let the kids walk up and down 3rd Street Promenade.  And if we feel really creative, we set up a stand on the promenade, dress the kids like monkeys, and start whoring ourselves for dollar bills.

On this particular day, Andrew was especially active.  It could be that he's just a typical boy.  It could be that he's athletic.  Or it could be that he had a double shot of espresso at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

As you can tell by the map to the right (or if you're reading this upside down, then it's to your left), I have showed you a portion of the promenade.  The black line denotes two things:  1)  The length of the promenade that Andrew ran, and 2) the length of the promenade that I ran while recording him with my cell phone in one hand, a messenger bag around my shoulder, and a tall coffee in my other hand. 

Take a look at Andrew sprinting as fast as he can!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 1262 - Picture Friday


See Emma play Johnny Depp's wife in 2012's Pirates of the Carribean:  Mail Order Wife.


Whose cuisine remains supreme?  Find out next week on Plastic Food Iron Chef!

 Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 1261 - Conversations with Andrew

Although Andrew is pretty much potty trained, we still put him pull-ups if we know we're going to be out of the house for a long period of time.  He has become an expert pisser (in more ways than one), but his pooping can be a hit or miss situation.

We were at a shopping mall when we saw Andrew brace himself against a pole.  With his red face, clenched teeth, and primal grunting, it looked like he was  pole dancing at a $1 strip joint.

Lisa checked his diaper, and it looked like the Sequoia National Park in there.  Andrew wobbled to the car with Lisa so she could change his pants.

"Andrew," Lisa said.  "You did a big poo-poo!"

"Yup," Andrew answered proudly.

"And it's really stinky too," said Lisa stating the obvious.

"I know," he agreed.

"The next time, you need to do your poo-poo in a toilet," Lisa explained.

And then Andrew stated matter of factly, "My stinky poo-poo?  Yup, you like it.  I know you like it."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 1259 - Time Waster

Ever since the kids started preschool in January, I feel like I have been sleep deprived due to Emma's and Andrew's erratic sleeping habits.  Between 11pm and 3am, Emma has the habit of running into our room crying, collapsing on the floor, and pleading for us to carry her back to bed.  And then between 4am and 7am, Andrew has the habit of crying in bed and shouting "CHECK ON ME!" until either Lisa or I checks on him or Emma smothers him with a pillow.

Feeling exhausted and desperate, I came upon this alarm clock at Amazon as I was searching for a new wall clock for the kids' room.  It's called the OK to Wake child alarm clock.  This little friendly globe glows a soothing orange when used as a night light and turns green when it is time to wake up.  With quite a number of glowing (Oh!  I love puns!) reviews, I figured I'd give this alarm clock a shot and gave it an OK to Buy (Oh!  My wit!).

When the clock arrived, I opened it up with in front of the kids and made it into a big deal.  I let them help me put the batteries in and showed them how it worked.  At bedtime, I told Emma and Andrew that they were to stay in bed until the clock turned green.  And when it turns green that means it is okay to get out of bed.  They seemed excited about their new clock, and I was excited that I might be able to get a solid seven hours of sleep and once again look like a young Sandra Ho.

I can tell you after using the clock for a few weeks, it has been an unqualified success.  But only if you define success as a wife telling her husband, "I told you it was going to be a waste of thirty dollars, dumbass."

For the first few days of using the clock, the kids actually stayed in bed at night.  But soon, there was a problem in the morning:  Emma did not like it when the clock turned green.  Emma would begin screaming when the clock turned green.  At first, she wouldn't tell me why she was crying, and I actually didn't care because I was getting a solid seven hours of sleep.  But eventually she explained to me that she thought if the green light turned off, she would not be able to get out of bed. 

The solution was easy enough.  I wrapped masking tape around Emma's eyes at night.  But since removing the tape added an additional ten minutes to the morning, I stopped doing it.  Instead, I continued to use the alarm clock, but never activated it to turn green in the morning.  When it was time to wake up, I would just go into their room, put the clock away, and wake the kids up.

Then a week later, Andrew had a different problem with the alarm clock:  he wanted it green when he went to sleep.  I explained to him that the clock only turns green when it was time to wake up.  But he demanded that I make the clock green NOW.  This made Emma anxious again because she did not want the clock to turn green at all.  She began screaming "No green!  No green!"  And Andrew shouted "Green!  Green!"'s not easy being green.

So cut to this week.  The kids are still occasionally crying and screaming in the middle of the night.  The alarm clock is on a shelf collecting dust.  I am out of thirty dollars.  And each night when we tuck the kids into bed, Lisa stares at me and mouths, "Dumbass."  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 1257 - Conversations with Emma & Andrew

It was time for bed, and I passed the brandy snifter to Emma and Andrew.  As we savored the taste and aroma of the well-aged brandy, I reminded the children to not be afraid of their dreams.

"Emma.  Andrew.  If you have a dream in the middle of the night, you need to remember that's it is not real," I said with reassurance.  "And most importantly, if you have a dream, do not...I not run into Mommy and Daddy's bedroom screaming."

The kids nodded their heads in agreement.

"So what do we do when we go to sleep," I asked.  "We think about happy things.  Things that make us laugh and smile.  Andrew, what makes you happy?"

Andrew stared at the bedroom ceiling and finally said, "You!  Daddy!"

Awww.  Andrew may occasionally drive me crazy with his energy and stubbornness, but he's a really sweet boy with a big heart.  Plus he picked me over Lisa.

I turned to Emma and asked her, "What makes you happy, Emma?"

She hugged her bunny blanket and whispered, "My princess toys."

And then I quickly heard from behind my back, Andrew correcting his answer, "No, no!  My car toys!  My car toys!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 1255 - Picture Friday

 Say cheese!

 Cut the cheese!

Andrew tried to explain to Daddy that he didn't want to pedal because he had a gigantic piece of dog crap on his shoe, but...oh well!

"Don't touch the handle!  It dirty!  Don't touch the pedals!  Dey dirty!  Take helmet off!  It dirty!  Keep wheels off ground!  Dat dirty!"

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 1254 - Conversations with Andrew

As Emma was recovering from her mild, yet overly dramatic sickness, Lisa and I continued to attend to her needs.  For a sick three year old, her needs weren't anything too demanding.  All she simply asked for was our attention for every single second of the day.  Is that too much to ask?  Oh.  She also asked for cookies.

One evening, I was rocking Emma in my arms as she was whimpering, "Every second of the day you must attend my needs."  Andrew walked up to me and asked, "What wrong?"

"Emma's sick," I replied.

"I not sick," answered Andrew.

"I'm glad you're not sick.  It's not fun to be sick, is it?"  I asked Andrew.

"Nope.  But Emma sick?" Andrew questioned with a furrowed brow.

"Yup.  That's why I'm carrying her.  Poor Emma doesn't feel good," I said.

And then Andrew patted Emma's head and said, "My best girl is sick."

That tender moment between brother and sister would have lasted a little longer if Emma didn't swat Andrew's hand away, and in response, Andrew tried to pull Emma off my lap.  But you take what you can get sometimes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 1252 - Crazy Grandma Ichikawa Storytime

Whom did Charlie Sheen learn about tiger blood, trolls, and warlocks from?  Why, the only person crazier than he is...Crazy Grandma Ichikawa Storytime!

Emma was a little under the weather again because she inhaled snot from an ailing classmate.  Or at least that's what I assumed.  Emma gets particularly dramatic when she gets sick.  There's a lot of crying, whining, and moaning.

Unfortunately for Crazy Grandma and Lazy Grandpa, they decided to come for a visit the same time Emma was a little sick.  It was nothing but a little cold she probably caught from inhaling some ailing classmate's snot.  But each time Emma gets sick, she get particularly dramatic.  There's a lot of crying, whining, and moaning.  Incidentally, there's also a lot of crying, whining, and moaning from me when Crazy Grandma comes for a visit.

Before I went to work, Emma complained of a headache.  So I told her if she came into the kitchen, I would give her a little medicine.  I tried to keep it on the down low because Andrew is at a very competitive stage with Emma.  Anything Emma gets, Andrew wants.  It has gotten so bad, you don't want to know what Andrew wanted when Emma was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection.

Of course, Andrew saw me giving Emma some medicine, and he began to cry immediately.  Crazy Grandma pounced into the room to see why her little boy was crying.  I explained the whole situation, and she tried to calm Andrew down with hugs, kisses, and Purell (She claims his hands were dirty...).

A trick that worked in the past was that I would give the healthy kid some apple juice in a spoon.  I would explain to them that I can't give them medicine, but a little juice in a spoon would keep them healthy.  But when I tried this with Andrew, he mustered all the energy he could and shouted "CHARLATAN" in my face.

I decided to let Andrew cry it out on the floor, but of course Crazy Grandma intervened.  After Swiffer-ing the floor around him, she put him on her lap and told him, "An-doo!  An-doo!  Ret me give you some apple jews."  All I could think was that I hoped the apples were kosher because Andrew is a practicing Orthodox.

I tried to tell Crazy Grandma to leave Andrew alone, but she insisted on giving Andrew the apple juice.  It was quite a struggle for her because Andrew was bawling his head off, and it was hard to keep him still.

"An-doo," she said.  "Grandma want to give you some jews.  Don't you rike jews?  Say ahhh!"

After some maneuvering, she was able to get the spoon into his mouth.  But what happened next was unexpected.  Probably between the full cup of milk Andrew just drank, the crying, and a spoon being shoved into his mouth, Andrew puked all over the floor and Crazy Grandma.

"Scotty!" Crazy Grandma screamed.  "Andrew spit out dah jews all ovah dah floor!"

After wiping up the mess, it was quite a chaotic morning.  But if there was any good news to share with you, it would be that Dreamworks and Steven Spielberg contacted me, and they want me to write a spec script based on this incident called Schnindler's Spit.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 1250 - Why So Nosey

Emma and I were lying down and talking about the day.  And then she suddenly did a little gasp, pointed at my face, and said, "What's that?"

I started to wipe my face with my hands, and after I found no stray pieces of food or electronic equipment, I didn't know what Emma seemed so horrified about.  I feared asking her if she was just disgusted with the way I looked because I just spent our tax return on my latest botox session. 

"Emma," I asked.  "What are you pointing at?"

"There! In your nose!" she exclaimed.

"Oh?  Do I have a boogie in my nose?" I asked.

"No.  It's black!" she said with urgency.

I wondered what could be inside my nose that was black.  A dirt booger?  Food?  A pygmy?  I started to dig around my nose and finally realized that Emma was probably talking about my nostril hairs.

"Are you talking about my nose hairs?" I said to Emma.

"Nose hair?"  She was shocked to even think that hair could grow inside your nose.

"Yah.  When you get older, you start to grow hair inside your nose.  Daddy probably just needs to trim his nose hairs.  That's all," I explained to Emma.

She continued to stare at my nose and then rightfully said, "Well, that's just gross."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 1249 - W2s and I-9s

After 201 days or 4824 hours or 289,440 minutes or 17,366,400 seconds...I went back to work this week.  But who's counting?

For almost seven months, I was a stay-at-home dad, and for the past five days I have been a working dad.  I think I am still transitioning back to my work mode because I heard my boss fart and I involuntarily checked his pants for poop.

I wondered if the kids would be affected because I was returning to work.  When I tucked Andrew into bed, I told him  I was going to work.  He seemed a little concerned and asked me not to go.  And when I told Emma, the only concern she showed was towards her Rapunzel doll who did not have her blanket completely covering her.  One out of two ain't bad.

After my first week back at work, my 17,366,400 seconds I spent with Emma and Andrew put several things into perspective.  I realize that being a stay-at-home parent to toddler twins is much more exhausting and stressful than work.  But conversely, staying at home is also full of moments that are much more fulfilling than work such as your child realizing that the toilet seat needs to be up in order to poop. 

I also think having the experiencing of staying home for a prolonged period of time makes you appreciate the time you have with your family more and appreciate the work that you do too.  Of course, it helps if your job is something that you enjoy doing.  I doubt the janitor at a porn theater is thinking, "I love picking up my kids as much as picking up used condoms!"

The bottom line is that I'm really happy and fortunate that I have been able to spend as much time at home with the kids the past three and a half years.  Before you know it, Emma and Andrew will be all grown up and off to high school.  And I think at that point, I will be really happy and fortunate if I could spend as much time at work as possible.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 1248 - Picture Friday

A Pooh in the hand is worth poo in the bush.
I don't remember if today is Ice Cream Saturday or Crisco Sunday.

There's a fine line between smiling and constipation.

New from Proctor & Gamble...Live Human Baby Swiffer!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 1247 - Conversations with Emma

Emma's sleeping has become a problem again.  Several times a night, she will run into our room at full speed, drop to the floor, and start crying.  This continuing lack of sleep has caused me to to drop to the floor and cry at an extremely lethargic and pitiful speed.

Before tucking Emma into bed, I wanted to see if there was anything to do to stop this behavior.

"Emma," I asked.  "Did you know you ran into our room last night four times and started crying?"

"Yah," she whispered.

"Do you know why you are crying?"

"Yah," she answered.  "I'm dreaming about sharks."

"You need to stop dreaming about sharks," I pleaded.  "Sharks might look a little scary, but they won't hurt you."

"But Daddy!" Emma shouted.

"No buts," I said.  "You need to stay in your bed and sleep at night."

"Daddy!" Emma sat up in bed for extra emphasis.  "Don't you understand?  I have no choice.!"

And this year's Tony Award for Dramatic and Over-Emphasized Hamminess goes to...Emma Ichikawa!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 1245 - Shhh!!!!

Andrew is having a difficult time napping at school.  I imagined he would have a problem because at home he becomes very stubborn and temperamental when it is time to nap.    He will cry, he will scream, and I think he even shouted "ATTICA" several times.

Andrew's difficulty isn't so much the sleeping as much as the calming down.  Almost every day he falls asleep during nap time.  But almost every day he also screams "DADDY" for the first 10-20 minutes of nap time.  Great for my needy ego, but unfortunate for the teachers.

I think the teachers have tried every trick in the book to try and calm Andrew down.  They have tried talking to him, patting his back, patting his head, and letting him play quietly with a toy or book.  I suggested that I could slip a few ounces of whiskey into his Jell-o cup, but that idea was shot down.

Today was another typical nap at school.  Nine kids in the class were silently lying down, and one child was yelling for his Daddy (...ego being fed again...).  A teacher went to Andrew and explained to him that his Daddy was at work, and nobody else in class was crying for their Daddy because it was time to take a nap.  I can only assume how Andrew responded, so I will guess he gave the teacher the evil eye, spit in her face, and continued to cry for me.

But then a hero was born.  Someone was able to knock a little sense into Andrew and make him stop crying.  Who was this savior of sleep?  This brave person was...Emma!

I was told Emma got so irritated by Andrew's crying that she got off her sleeping mat, stood over Andrew, and said, "Andrew!  I am trying to sleep!  You need to stop crying now!"

And guess what?  It worked!  Andrew quieted down and fell asleep.  So for those of you who have kids who won't take a nap, please feel free to tweet or email me for the use of Emma at the low, low price of an ipad 2 (preferably white with 32 gigs and 3g).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 1243 - Target in the Pants

 When Andrew is constipated, it becomes essential when we are out of the house to put him in pull-up diapers.  Literally and figuratively, it saves our asses.

We were browsing the toy aisles at our local Target when Andrew leaned thirty degrees into a display, grabbed the shelf, and turned red.

"Andrew," I said.  "Are you going poop?"

"Rrrggrrruuummmmmmm," Andrew mumbled which I interpreted as a definite "yes".

"Let's go to the bathroom," I told Andrew as I grabbed his hand.

"No!" shouted Andrew.  "I don't want to sit on the potty."

Soon, Andrew began to grunt and groan.  Several people stared at him, and Andrew would just stare back and explain, "I'm going poo-poo."

When the redness in Andrew's face disappeared, I did what any good father would do:  I had Mommy check his diaper.

Lisa peeked inside and twisted her body and face so much, I thought she was going to hunch over and shout, "Sanctuary!"  She told me that Andrew's diaper was completely full with a mixture of constipated and prune-infused poop.  It was the poop that was pushed out with the help of prunes that made Andrew's pants especially slushy.

"I need to take you to the car to change your clothes.  Okay, Andrew?" asked Lisa.

"Okay," whispered Andrew.

And as they slowly shuffled to the car, there was only one thing that Andrew repeated over and over again.  He kept on saying, "My poop is moving.  My poop is moving.  My poop is moving."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 1241 - Picture Friday

Every morning, Andrew runs into the wind to style his hair.

Emma enjoys coloring her The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo activity book.

 Meet the new spokesperson for Tylenol PM.

Don't be fooled.  The only reason Emma is smiling is because her ponytails are too tight.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 1240 - Monitor Talk

When the kids go to sleep, we still turn on the baby monitor.  What was once a useful, informative device has tuned into a vicious, unwanted alarm clock.  I don't know when it happened, but at some point the helpless baby who cried for you at night turned into a desperate, irritating toddler you want to ignore. 

One bonus about using the monitor when your kids are older is that you're able to listen to some very peculiar conversations.  With their limited, but always increasing vocabulary, it is pretty damn funny to hear them communicate their thoughts and ideas to each other.  At times it sounds like a really bad and awkward first date.  Or as Lisa likes to call it, our marriage.

The other day, I heard this gem of a conversation that Andrew and Emma were having with each other.



Poo-poo Daddy.

Daddy not a poo-poo.

Poo-poo Daddy.  Daddy a poo-poo.

Stop, Andrew.  Daddy not a poo-poo.

Poo-poo Daddy.  Poo-poo Daddy.

Stop calling Daddy a poo-poo.  I'm trying to sleep!



Finally, Lisa walked into their room to stop this silly conversation.  She told Andrew to stop calling Daddy poo-poo, and if he was to call me anything at all, it should be "dumbass" or "jackass".

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 1238 - Not That Book!

The preschool asked the parents to read Dr. Seuss books this month to celebrate his birthday.  I jokingly told the preschool director that although I didn't have the time to read a Dr. Seuss book, I would be happy to read Delta of Venus to celebrate Anais Nin's birthday.  Awkwardly, I guess erotic literature jokes are not a big hit with preschool directors...

I did volunteer to read a Dr. Seuss book to the kids at the preschool.  I asked Andrew and Emma the night before which book I should read to their class.  They looked through their bookshelf and selected Fox in Socks.  I don't know if you remember that book, but it's basically one long tongue-twisting book of rhymes.

I was a little afraid to read that book to a class of two to three year olds for fear that my tongue may fail me.  Trying to say the words "fox" and "socks" over and over again is extremely dangerous...especially on live television (Watch out for those FCC fines!).  If I made one slip of the tongue, instead of describing footwear for a fox's foot, I would be describing the only piece of clothing on a college freshman's body while performing acts found in any number of Anais Nin's novels.

So today, I went to the preschool to read Fox in Socks.  The teacher introduced me, and thankfully, Andrew and Emma were excited to see me; they have not yet become embarrassed to be with me in public like Lisa has.  The teacher pulled up a chair for me, but it looked like it came from a Little People, Big World garage sale.  I squatted down and began the story.

I wasn't too sure how attentive the class was going to be towards me.  The one thing I was going to do was to change my voice for the Fox and the Knox.  When I read the book at home, I use a nasally voice for The Fox and a lower, raspy voice for the Knox.  But when I started reading in class, for some reason I ended up using an Urkel-like voice for the Fox and a poor man's impersonation of Jimmy Stewart for the Knox.  It was like a very surreal Family Matters episode.

Thankfully, I completed the story without uttering the f-bomb once.  All of the kids laughed at all the right places, and the places where they did not laugh, I played a laugh track.  I gave Andrew and Emma a hug and told them I would pick them up after nap.

The only mistake that happened was when the teacher told the class to thank me.  As the class said thank you, I wanted to tell them, "Let's clap for your teacher's class!"  But my tongue finally gave out and I said, "Let's crap for your teacher's ass!"

I doubt they will ask me back for Roald Dahl week...