October 26, 2007

Our Little Halloweenie ...

Picking out a Halloween costume for a three-month-old child should be easier than listening to the radio and less irritating than The Song That Never Ends—just slap a ghoulish onesie on her bod and pumpkin hat on her head and you're set. Hell, the kid can't go trick-or-treating and the only memory she'll have of the event is an embarrassing picture dad took proving that mom considered dressing her up as an Oscar Mayer wiener.

(Editor's Note Posted On Advice From Libel Attorney: My wife did not, in any way, shape or form, suggest that we dress up our daughter as an Oscar Mayer wiener. She did, however, admit that she thinks Oxygen's "Tori and Dean Inn Love" is [quote] a good show [unquote].)

Needless to say that when my wife approached me about dressing up Ella in a costume, I wasn't exactly what you'd call "on board." Seemed like a waste of time, a waste of energy and a waste of what dads like to call "savings." But when I looked at my little girl and she gave me the dough eyes (or the I-Pooped Eyes, it's hard to tell the difference), I caved.

Now over the years I've been fairly reluctant to buy costumes from a store. To me, part of Halloween's sugar buzz is brainstorming and piecing together a clever outfit. I've had an array of success to show for it—Where's Waldo, Luke Duke, Catholic School Girl, and (my personal favorite) Dark Helmet from Spaceballs. There have also been several failures—Silent Bob (I'm not very silent), Punk Rock kid (just looked like 27-year-old loser) and giant Homer Simpson papier-maché head (which is really a push because it eventually became the mask for Dark Helmet).

With that in mind, I started to get excited about the idea. My brain clicked like clockwork and I began drawing up plans for some of the best and more adorable family costumes. My first idea involved us dressing up like characters from The Wizard of Oz. Ella could be Dorothy (red slippers and all), I would be the Tin Man and Brittany could be the Wicked Witch of the West. After two nights of sleeping on the couch, I decided that this idea wasn't good for my back.

Strike one.

Next on my list of ideas: The Flintstones. I figured with my loud mouth, I'd make a great Fred. Brittany has the red hair for Wilma. And Ella is the perfect size to make an adorable Pebbles. Unfortunately this plan hit a snag when it was brought to my attention that none of us know how to sew.

Strike two.

My sister-in-law (also a creative at heart) got into the mix and attempted to make this a giant family affair. She made her Chihuahua, Hula, a ladybug outfit and wanted Ella to be a flower. She also suggested Brittany dress as a watering can (because she helps the "flower" grow) and I go as a farmer. While I appreciate the thought, I had to shoot this down. Can you imagine how many people would try to water her? (That's right, I'm looking at you Grandpa T.)

Strike three, I'm out.

I wish I could tell you that I came up with a genius idea. I wish I could tell you that I came up with even an OK idea. I wish I could tell you that I came up with an idea that didn't cause my wife to look at me and ask, "Are you mentally challenged?" But I can't.

With Halloween right around the corner, I waived the white undershirt of defeat and bought a costume from Babies R Us. Sure it's cute and adorable, but it doesn't carry the same prestige and fun-spirit that a homemade costume would. And though I may not have succeeded this year, I vow to make the sweetest costume for her next year—or, at the very least, something much sweeter than an Oscar Mayer wiener.

What will Ella be for Halloween? Stop back next week to find out (I'll post a picture).

The Life of Dad is updated most Fridays (barring the call of family duties). Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian

October 12, 2007

Questions to Ask Your Babysitter

Finding a babysitter is about as fun as getting your car repaired: You know you have to do it, it'll take way longer than you'd like and the bill will make you say things like, "We better start packing our lunches" and "How much do you think I can get for this kidney?"

On our quest to find Ella a sitter, we interviewed somewhere between 11 and 900 candidates because, according to Brittany, "no one is good enough to watch our little angel." This statement, of course, is currently true, but is subject to change the first time our "angel" runs around the house smearing poop on the wall.

The interview process is quite miserable. It's long, taxing on the brain and involves a list of 1,000 well-prepared (yet incredibly boring) questions that my wife found on BabyCenter.com. This includes snoozers like "What activities do you do with the children?" and "How do you calm them down?" and "How do you discipline the kids?"

While these questions are nice on a macro-level, what do they really tell you about a person? Not nearly enough. That's why I've developed a quiz of five very basic multiple-choice questions that I believe can tell you all you need to know about a potential babysitter:

Question 1: Which of these do you consider your weakest bar sport?

a. Foosball
b. Ping Pong
c. Billiards
d. Flip Cup

If she doesn't answer "billiards," head for the car. Babysitters must be quick, determined and adaptable. Billiards is a game of finesse (thanks to Benny "The Jet" Wagner for that piece of advice). It's slow and many people need a partner to play. Do you want to leave your child in the hands of someone who is dependant on others and doesn't have the reflexes necessary to catch your child as she falls from the refrigerator she just climbed? I don't think so.

Question 2: Which one of these books did you enjoy the most?

a. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
b. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
c. A Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
d. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Any of these answers are acceptable, as this proves your sitter can read. Scoff all you want, but this skill is a must. Sure, it'll come in handy when mom wants her to read Dr. Suess to your kid. But to dad, it's more important to know that she can read warning labels on all house-cleaning supplies and also the note you left telling her that under no circumstance is your mother or mother-in-law allowed to steal the baby. (Bonus Tip: You may also want to provide your sitter with mug shots).

Question 3: If you were stranded on an island with only one person, who would it be?

a. Your Husband
b. Your Children
c. My Children
d. I prefer to be there alone

Trick question. The correct answer here is Mr. T. He not only offers protection due to his badass-ed-ness, but also provides countless hours of entertainment. And while her children or your children may say something cute from time to time, none of them has a catch phrase as powerful as our favorite member of the A-Team: "I pity the fool who doesn't pass this babysitter quiz!"

Question 4: Can you beat me in arm-wrestling?

a. Yes
b. No
c. Probably
d. Maybe if you've been drinking

I don't care if I was drunk, injured or asleep, there's no way I'd lose any feats-of-strength competition to a babysitter—at least not a babysitter I'm willing to hire. Any daycare provider who thinks she can beat me in arm wrestling is either 1) delusional or 2) a dude. And I'm uncomfortable with both. Therefore, the only acceptable answer here is "No."

Question 5: Do you read this hilarious blog called "The Life Of Dad"?

a. Always
b. Most of the time
c. Never
d. Are you kidding? I have a poster of him on my wall!

Don't trust a sitter who answers "c." She's probably a communist.

(And, if you're wondering, we were lucky to find an awesome babysitter who answered all of these questions correctly—that's right, even the Mr. T. one.)

The Life of Dad is updated most Fridays (barring the call of family duties). Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian