Category Archives: Children

Ironman Results!


Well, wouldn’t you know it?  My son Takeshi took THREE 1st Place awards, including an “Overall” trophy at L.A.’s “Ironman Naturally” competition today.  I’m really proud of him.  He really put his heart and soul into it.  I’m sure he had the jitters as this was his first competition.

Just a pictorial of his accomplishments today.  His “first” 1st Place in Physique Class A:

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His “second” 1st Place in Physique Class B:

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And his Overall 1st Place for Physique Class A/B:

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Some shots from on stage; the guy in the center took the trophy for this mixed class:

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And after the competition – a chance for a photo-op with the champ!

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And yes, for those who are wondering, my physique surpasses that of my son.  I’m just being modest and hiding my ripped body with my Green Bay Packers sweatshirt – which is too big now with all the weight I had lost.

And some of his friends and supporters were there, of course.

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My oldest daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter Emi were also there for the morning half of the competition.  You should have seen the winding line of thousands who were trying to get in when the doors opened!

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The kid done good, yes?!  Congratulations, Takeshi!

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(Oh… A qualification.  All of these photos had to be taken with my cellphone as they disallowed cameras. 😦 )

She’s Killing Me #10


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“Noooo-ah!” But too late. She was the last person to get out of the car…again.

She’s killing me, I tell ya.

My Little Cake Boss Diva.

Even way up in Seattle.  Her killing me is not restricted to home.  It is unrelenting.

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While some of her photographs will be shown below, a quick she’s-killing-me story first.

We weren’t even in Seattle for three hours when the onslaught continued.  (Don’t think she didn’t try to kill me during the flight.  Even my warning her of plain clothes air marshals being on board didn’t deter her.).

After quickly checking in, we met my good friend Rick; like any good buddy, he treated my two kids and me to dinner.

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My good buddy Rick, a USAF veteran. He liked blowing things up. Still does… but all his Mustangs are slower than mine.

As I had brought some cigars for him but forgot them in the room, we had to return to the hotel.  While he and his gal waited in the lobby, I escorted the kids up to the room.

Knowing my Little Cake Boss Diva, I sternly said, “Brooke, do NOT touch anything, OK?”

“Okaaay-ah!” she replied… and I headed back down to the lobby, cigars in hand.

I wasn’t with him for more than fifteen minutes before I returned to the room.  Yes, I was worried she was up to something.

So I opened the door.  Wham.  A rush of frigid artic air hit me.  Mumbles (from Happy Feet) would have been pleased.

At the other end of the room, there she was on top of the air conditioner grill…sitting on a blue bed cover sheet with her butt square in the middle with her hands on either side trying to keep the sheet down.  She was attempting to stop the flow of air conditioned air blasting out of the A/C.  Talk about the Lucy Show.  She was Lucy.  I was Ricky, down to the “Ai-ya-yai, Lucy!”

Before I could yell, “Brooke!”, Jack immediately ratted out on his sister.

“Papa, she was doing something that she wasn’t supposed to and turned on the air conditioner!  She doesn’t know how to turn it off so it’s freezing in here!”  He was very pleased with himself for tattling.

Now I could yell, “Brooke!  I told you NOT to touch anything!”

“Hee-hee…” she replied with her trademark “I’m VERY innocent” smile making for a happy face complete with adorable chubby cheeks..

I turned off the air then she scampered over to the one cup coffee brewer.  What do you all that gizmo?  A Keurig?  Sure enough, there was one empty slot.  She had brewed herself some coffee.

19105232875_47cbae4ee2_o“Brooke!  What were you doing brewing yourself coffee?!  You don’t even know how to use that thing!”

“Welllll-ah!  I was freezing-ah!  And I can read (the directions) so I made myself something like a latte, okaaaay-ah?  Sheesh!”

She’s only twelve.  OMFG.

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Anyways, that’s one of her traits…besides doing the opposite of what I say.  She has to try everything…except clean her room.

So as in my previous post – and not being pleased with the way Jack was taking pictures – she commandeered my pretty new bazillion dollar Canon DSLR for pretty much the rest of the trip.

I only gave her one pointer: to cradle the lens with her left hand while shooting.  For once, she actually followed my instructions.

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c-10-340But anyways, here are some of her photos taken with my bazillion dollar camera:

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Jack and me at the bottom left.
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Handheld macro!
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Handheld macro!

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Handheld macro!

c-10-334c-10-328c-10-333c-10-331c-10-332So what do you think of her abilities?

Her photography… Not on how she’s killing me.

Some Disappointment


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Jack is now headed to high school come September having graduated from middle school.

The last two weeks have been exciting if not challenging with all the kids’ activities.

In addition to an 8th grade party and his 14th birthday, my youngest son Jack has graduated 8th grade and is heading off to high school come September.  Not only did he receive recognition for perfect attendance, he also made honor roll.

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Jack receiving recognition for perfect attendance.

In addition, my Little Cake Boss Diva has had rehearsals – lots of them – culminating in recitals… Twelve performances in total Friday, Saturday and Father’s Day Sunday.  During the past ten days or so, I must have made at least 25 round trips taking both her and food to and from dance rehearsals and performances.  Believe me, I have enough for TWO “She’s Killing Me” stories but you won’t be bored with them now; I shall refrain.

Insofar as these rehearsals and recitals go, she needs to be dropped off in full makeup and costume an hour before the start of every event.  But as I dropped her off on Saturday and watched her get to the entrance, it was clear that she was no longer my little girl.

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She is pretty much a teenager – a bit too early.

Still scatterbrained, though…Her brain has ceased to function now that school is over except she still wouldn’t let me take her picture.

Well, maybe just this one, taken with my cell phone past 10pm and after tonight’s recital.  It was taken in the light flowing out from the main lobby of the performing arts center.

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Very pixelated and grainy but it’s just for the memories.

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The annual recital was called “Arabian Nights”.

But my girl and boy are not the focus of this post… “Some disappointment” is my focus.

While my Little Cake Boss Diva performed five routines flawlessly Friday night (opening number, lyrical, tap, jazz, ballet), it’s about what the dance school decided to name the recital: Arabian Nights.  That is the source of the disappointment for me.  Of course, I have no say-so in the matter.

Perhaps it’s just the patriotism in me that’s clouding my vision – but it’s there plain as day.  Arabian Nights.  No, I am not racist but I do feel we are at war.  It is abundantly clear our young boys are dying each day in a godforsaken region in which Arabian Nights is based upon yet this implies something else to me.

Let us view it differently.  If a dance school in 1942 were to name their recital “Celebration of Nazi Folklore” or “A Tokyo Love Story”, would there be some boycotting or outrage?  I would think so.  Remember there were death camps and executions of prisoners of war.  Besides, it just wouldn’t make sense.  We were at war… and we are now.

Their opening number was called “Arabian Jewels”.  Other performances were entitled “40 Thieves” and “Walk Like an Egyptian” (talk about stereotyping).

How about a theme like “The Andrew Sisters” with tap dancing to songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”?  Or how about celebrating the much needed morale boosting supplied by the Hollywood Canteen?  Think of all the marvelous smiles these stars like Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Ray Bolger and Ginger Rogers provided our service men and women with their dance at the Hollywood Canteen.  Wouldn’t that would be something that these girls could dance to?

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Shirley Temple providing much needed smiles at the Hollywood Canteen.

Has the foundation upon which our country is based crumbled that far?  At least we recited the Pledge of Allegiance at Jack’s graduation.

Anyways, I was just expressing some disappointment.  I’m sure to many, this may be seen as cultural awareness.  I do loathe sharia law which is intertwined in Arabian Nights. It is totally contra to our Constitution.

I guess the answer lies within which side of the fence you are on.

She’s Killing Me #9


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About five years ago… when she was just my little girl.

She’s killing me, I tell ya.

My Little Cake Boss Diva.

If I were a cat, I am on my ninth life.

Well, maybe my tenth.

Unfortunately, I am a dog.  A dog that loves to sit on a human’s legs.  But unfortunately, dogs don’t have nine lives, you know.

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Her mind is on summer vacation; school is out this week.  It is a signal to her brain to cease functioning.  Well, not completely.  She can still text like crazy.

While her brain is normally stock full of smarts, it is now replaced with shades of nail polish, texts, BFFs, the mall(s), dance… and scatter-itis.

Scatter-itis, like scatter-brained in layman’s terms.

And she did not get that from me – but since it is me who is writing this, I can say that.

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2009

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My Little Cake Boss Diva was with her mother last week and as in every school year before, she has to turn in her textbooks.

Simple…unless your brain has stopped functioning.

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So my last visit to the gallows started at her orthodontist on Friday morning, June 12th.  Not that her mother told me she was taking her.

I will let my Little Cake Boss Diva’s texts speak for themselves:

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And when she says “in my room”, she is referring to my home.
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Car, not cat. I am blaming spell check.

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So I planned to be at home when school got out…  so she could see for herself her textbook wasn’t here LIKE I SAID.  One thing about my Little Cake Boss Diva: once she thinks she’s right, not even a jackhammer the size of Bumblebee can break it up.  (She did not get that from me.)

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Believe me, I bit my tongue when she said she wasn’t dropping by after I purposely came back home… but I’m sure her mother made that decision, also on purpose.  And in case you’re wondering, the “dolphin” is this huge plush toy I got her many years ago.
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“He” is my son Jack. I asked to make sure he had his own room; I have never seen interior pictures of my ex’s home…although my younger brother has.

text 9I slowly bled to death in those seven hours.  I had so many morphine shots administered that addiction is looming.  And perhaps you may be wondering why we didn’t talk on her iPhone that I bought and pay for monthly?

Don’t ask.

Somebody, please help me.

I am running out of lives.

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BUT, the saga of her killing me for the bazillionth time is not over… Not just yet.  She is still with her mom who is supposed to take care of all her dance stuff by virtue of the divorce agreement.  (You know, the same mom who apparently made no real effort to locate her textbook.)

The very next day – June 13th – my Little Cake Boss Diva was thoughtful enough to have arranged for my funeral services.  She even gave the eulogy from her mid-day Saturday dance class via iPhone.  Isn’t technology amazing?

Her eulogy via her iPhone began like this:

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text 99Luckily, I was an un-dead.  I had not been cremated yet so I managed to get into my car and drive to her dance studio by 12:30.  While I was certain her precious sheet of paper was not in my house, I knew she would not be satisfied unless she came to inspect her impeccably un-tidy room herself.  She thinks she’s always right, you know.

So she comes out a few minutes late (as usual), lugging her abundantly odoriferous dance bag and her plastic “dance bucket” filled with 1,000 pairs of her various dance shoes.

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Her bucket with her 1,000 pairs of dance shoes. BTW, there is a bottom to this pit, you know.

As soon as she got in, I expertly maneuvered the car out of the battle zone filled with crazed dance moms driving their battle tanks.  I think my Little Cake Boss Diva expected me to give her a piece of my mind for the textbook fiasco just the day before but I instead calmly asked, “Brooke, are you SURE it’s not at mama’s or in your dance bag?”

“Yessssss-ah! And it’s not at mama’s!” she annoying replies in her valley girl phonetics.

I look at her bucket and see a small corner of a piece of paper through the jumbled mess of 1,000 pairs of shoes.  “Brooke, did you look in your bucket?  The bucket you carry to dance class five days a week?”

“Yessssssssss-ah!” she instantly says while gesturing with her hands, palms up, fingers spread out… then looks down at the bucket, pushes around a couple of shoes, and pulls out the paper she was looking for…  You know, the vital paper she said was not at her mother’s house but at my house…in the bucket she sticks her manicured fingers into many times a week.

“Oooops…  Hee-hee-hee…” grinning then saying, “Sorry.”  No sorrrrry-ah, though.

I turn the car around and drop her off without saying a word.  My body is late for the cremation, you know.

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If you are unable to tell, my Little Cake Boss Diva is in the orange shirt.

She’s Killing Me #8


She’s killing me, I tell ya.

My Little Cake Boss Diva.

She is faithful… Faithfully late, that is.

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She reminds me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  By virtue of his timepiece, the rabbit knows he is late and is frantic about it.

From http://clockworkbrothers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/alice_in_wonderland_1951_1.jpg

And my Little Cake Boss Diva Rabbit also has a clock; it is the world’s biggest clock and it is on the home screen of her iPhone.  You know.  She has to swipe through it to get to her precious texting screen.

But unlike the rabbit, she does not panic when she sees the world’s biggest clock for it apparently serves no useful purpose.    Perhaps she is blind.  For her, it is better to be three hours late than one minute early.

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Believe me.

It is a daily school nightmare ritual when she stays with me.  The school bell rings at 8:55 am.  Sometimes, she finally gets into the car at 8:54 am… still barefoot.  But by the time we get to the school, she is still barefoot because she has been messing around with her hair in the backseat while looking at herself on her iPhone…  You know, the one with the world’s biggest clock.

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Her precious dance classes are no different.  Let us take one example; mind you, she has EIGHT dance classes a week.

Her ritual is this.  Say her dance class starts at 6:30 pm.

Brooke at 6:15 pm from her bathroom (with a mirror that the vain and wicked stepmother in Snow White would be jealous of), “OK, I’m ready.”

I can still hear her hairbrush clanking against the sink along with the occasional hiss from her hair spray.  I don’t move from my couch.

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See? My Little Cake Boss Diva didn’t even look at the clock on her cell phone from when she was little. It took her an hour to get her hair bun just to look like that, too.  There is great truth in “the past is the best indicator of things to come”.

Me, at 6:25 pm: “Brooke, we need to go…”

Silence… but I can hear her rustling in her room.  Maybe she’s looking for her dance shoes.  She’s got four kinds of them, you know.

Me, at 6:29 pm: “Brooke, I’ll be waiting in the car, okaaay?”

Silence…

A minute later, out she comes…  Yes!  Oops.  She goes back in again.  Half a minute later, she emerges and runs to the car…barefoot.  But she drags along her bag that has Nordstrom’s entire shoe selection in it.  No kidding.  I guess she couldn’t decide which dance shoe to wear for this one class.

We get to her dance school in a couple of minutes but it’s 6:32 pm already.  I carefully drive into the cramped war zone called a parking lot; it is filled with crazed dance moms who stop their battle tank dead in the middle of the aisle instead of off to one side to let their daughters off.  One mother actually turns on her emergency blinkers.  Nobody can move until that mother moves.  But they don’t care… because their battle tank is equipped a 105mm cannon…front and rear.  Nobody dares asks them to move to one side.

Brooke?  She’s still putting hair pins into her “bun”.

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She is still putting in hair pins; class started five minutes ago. She is giving me the evil eye.

There are other late mothers lining up behind me, still trying to battle their way through the war zone littered with SUVs and minivans going every which way except forward.  I can see she still is not ready so I need to find a parking spot in this war zone.  Unfortunately, these mothers in their SUVs think they truly are in M1A1 Abrams battle tanks and take up two spots.  They do it on purpose, relegating us lowly men to one.  They believe they are entitled to two spots.  After all, this is California, land of entitlement.

After a minute or two, I step out of the car.  I can’t stand to watch.  She is still fussing with her hair bun.  (Remember: she said she was ready at 6:15?)

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She is still putting in the world’s supply of hair pins.

Oh-oh…  Here she comes.  It’s 6:40 pm.  Class started ten minutes ago.

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She has her shoes on. Unbelievable.

What’s this?!  She’s got her shoes on?  Golly-gee-willikers.  And she’s running like the rabbit?  Perhaps she has finally realized she is… late?

Nahhh….

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By the way…  I am always on time.  My oldest daughter is always on time, too.  She got that from me.

…But my Little Cake Boss Diva’s (non-)sense of time?  You can figure that one out.

She’s Killing Me #6


She’s killing me, I tell ya.

My Little Cake Boss…

But now, it will have to be My Little Cake Boss…DIVA.

That’s right.  My Little Cake Boss Diva.

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Before she became the Little Cake Boss Diva.

After (manipulatively) maneuvering me over several weeks, she entrapped me into taking her and two friends on a shopping frenzy (for them, not me).  My back ached for days.  My fingers developed callouses from having to hold their bazillion shopping bags that weighed over a hundred pounds each.

But I am a slow learner.  Yes, I am.

From about the time of the shopping frenzy, she had already begun her next manipulation.

Hindsight is always 100%, you know.

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“Papa, don’t you think my hair looks nice?  It’s really more bronze, yeah?  Feel it.”

“Yes, its soft and bronze at the ends, just like Robyn’s (my oldest daughter),” I said.

She brought it up again…within a couple of days of the first.

Then…

“Papa, what did Robyn use to highlight her hair?”

WTF?  Her mother (illegally) does hair.  Why doesn’t she ask her?  I said, “I don’t know.”

But I am a slow learner… or a real slow catcher-oner.  (That’s supposed to be a word and it’s in Webster’s.)  Perhaps dense is a better descriptive, especially when it comes to girl jabber.  I mean, girl talk.

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My four kids on Father’s Day 2010. My Little Cake Boss Diva is missing a tooth. My oldest son on the right is now pursuing his PhD.

A few days later, “Papa, you know my hair is really a dark, bronze color…  Do you think my hair would look better with lighter highlights or darker red highlights like Robyn had?”

OMG.  Gulp.

But I played coy… I played dumb.  But I texted Robyn so that I could be prepared.  “What did you use to highlight your hair?”

“I used a Groupon deal,” she answered.

Dang it.

So I texted my USAF buddy’s wife, Ms. S.  She’s a girlie girl.  She should know.

“Oh, it’s really tricky to do it yourself.  You should take her to get it done.”

The whole world is against me.

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Her Snow White birthday party and her “bronze” hair.  Oh, she’s the one on the right.

So on Sunday, April 12th (three days before income tax returns are due), I tell her in the morning, “Oooookay, Bu-chan…  Let’s go get your hair highlighted.”

You should have seen her face light up.  It was as if Little Miss Energy got plugged into a 220v socket.  For the first time in her life, she got into the car…somewhat quickly.  Who am I kidding?  She took 20 minutes.  She had to change and brush her hair…and get her iPhone, of course.

I take her to this salon nearby that the gals have told me about.  I drive up.  It’s closed.  WTF?

So we drove across the street to this fancy-schmancy place the WOMEN tell me about (i.e., $$$).  It was a little past 10 am so I was hoping to get her a walk-in.  Parked out in front and the sign said OPEN.  Well, it was not.  What’s with these women places??!  Barbershops are open on Sunday!

So the Little Cake Boss Diva gets on her phone and says there’s a salon open.  I never ask her to tell me where some place is because 30 miles is down the block to her.  Luckily, it was about 15 minutes away.  She calls but the line’s busy.  We go anyways.

Well, they were booked up solid…  She looked kinda sad but I knew of this one other place next to Yum-Yum Donuts that was for sure open…and it was close to the house.

We get there.  They take her.

She sits in the chair.  Out comes her iPhone.  Selfie time, I guess.

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She’s probably texting the whole student body.
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The transformation begins…and the biggest grin gets bigger.
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Still grinning…
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Blow drying.
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“Stop taking pictures, Papa!” Tough.
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The grin is still there at dinner…

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I think she was a most happy camper.

She manipulated me again, hasn’t she?

But I am glad she wanted to manipulate me.

She’s Killing Me #5


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My Little Cake Boss on the right as her friend snaps a selfie. They’re looking into a mirror in the Lancome cosmetics section in Macy’s.

She’s killing me, I tell ya.

Big time.

This time, my Little Cake Boss literally left me holding the bag(s)… for over an hour.

My knees crumbled under the weight.

Two vertebrae were crushed.

But I persevered.  I mentally made myself to be one of our heroic Marines, carrying a wounded buddy to safety… while on the receiving end of an enemy barrage.

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I had the kids for ten days this time; I’m guessing their mother got another invitation to travel with a certain “somebody”.  The fact she didn’t take my son to piano tells me it must’ve been some trip.  She didn’t even tell her own kids where she would be going.  Unbelievable.

Maybe it was court ordered community service.

Nah.  Wishful thinking.

But the Little Cake Boss had been asking me for over a couple of weeks if I could take her shopping with her friends.  She said she was loaded with greenbacks and gift cards.  She even remembered how much she got from whom.

See.  Women never forget.

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So I often asked her during those ten days, “When?  Saturday or Sunday?”

Forget even asking what time.  She uses an hour glass that she forgets to turnover.

Or even the logistics.  “How many of you are going?” “When am I to pick them up…and from where?” LOL

And when I ask again, she gets mad…again.

Well, I guess I should be happy she asked me and not her mom.

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So Friday evening comes…and OMG.  She has a plan…kinda.

“Can you take us on Sunday, Papa?” she asks.

“Sure, Bu-chan (my nickname for her).  Who and at what time?”

“I don’t know yet,” she says.

Double OMG.

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The Three Musketeers soon after arrival.  Notice their hands are empty…

Long story short, I end up picking up one of her BFF’s, “N”, at her house on Sunday at 10:45 am…  and this is after the plans changed once again that morning.  Her other BFF, “A”, is now having her mother drop her off at the mall at 11:00 “in front of Nordstrom’s”.  She tells me this as we near the mall.  (Never mind I was forced to clean the WHOLE house Saturday as “A’s” mother was supposed to be dropping her off at my house… Grrr…)

“In front of Nordstrom’s, Bu-chan?” I ask.

“Yessssss,” she annoying answers as I apparently interrupted the two girls I am chapperoning.  They are the paying customers, you know.

“Bu-chan…  I think there are five entrances to Nordstrom’s…” says I.

She doesn’t answer.  Cha-ching.  Got her.  Finally.  “Have her meet us in front of Lazy Dog Cafe then,” I say.

She still doesn’t really answer because her old man got her.  She hates that because she’s the Boss.  I can see her hurriedly texting “A”.  She’s a text queen, you know.

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Anyways, I can’t remember how many stores they hit… Translation: how many HOURS… and while she knew I would have to tag along, she “hinted” I didn’t have to stand “close” to them.  Sheesh.

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They were in there for a month, you know…  Well, actually, about five minutes.  How can three girls spend five minutes in there taking a selfie???
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…and she wouldn’t let me see the pictures. Hmmpph.
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Reaching for her first Rolex at Tiffany’s.
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Their hands are filling up.
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Can’t run low on sugar.
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Still whippin’ out that cash. Aren’t they tired yet? Isn’t it time to call it a day???

Then, the 1-1/2 hour nightmare…   It’s the equivalent of a woman having to stand for hours on end in the Craftsman Tool section at Sears while the man drools…

They hit the cosmetics section.

Lancome, even.  Criminy.

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Lancome?? I didn’t deserve this.

I didn’t know twelve year old girls could get so giddy.

They were crazed.  I think their brains stopped working.  They went from “thing” to another “thing” in there.  I have no frickin’ idea what the stuff they slathered on their faces were called.  There were just a bazillion colors.  They would put it on then wipe it off.  They used a bazillion black or white sticks with stiff little bristles at the end that they took to their eyes while standing millimeters away from the mirror…all whilst contorting their faces.  They stood so close, they blocked out the sun standing in front of those full-length mirrors.

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If a girl is confused, imagine how her dad felt.

Oh…and don’t forget…  I indeed got stuck holding the bag(s)…

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They were so heavy, my fingers went numb.

But I persevered… for over six hours.

Think about it.  I could have flown from JFK to LAX on the Spirit of St. Louis in less time…and stopped to refuel.

Oh…  They went back to the opposite end of the mall afterwards… to hit Sephora.

That’s another makeup place for you guys.

Ewww.

A Volcanic Week


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The Little Cake Boss doing her dance thing out in the middle of nowhere. Notice her iPhone? The Texting Princess was not too keen about having no signal.

It indeed turned out to be a volcanic week.  The end began the night before on Saturday at 10:30 pm when my son asked, “Papa, can we go to the Mojave Road tomorrow?”

Mojave Road??  In the morning??  Egads.

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The week was already in shambles… full of surprises.

My 13 year old son requested one of my apples pies so I baked one on Tuesday night…from scratch.  Crust included – never mind it looked like a clone of Shaq’s head. The pie turned out pretty darned good if you ask him.  Can you hear it sizzling as it came out of the oven?:

My 11 year old daughter has multiple dance classes every week night except Friday plus 2-1/2 hours on Saturday – right in the middle of the day.  On Thursdays, although she has a two hour window in between two classes, she chooses to stay to chat up a storm with her friends…except last week.  As I take her to her 4:30 pm class on the 4th (late again as she is never ready on time), she asks me to pick her up at 5:30 instead!  Plus, as she exits the car, she manipulatively says, “…and today’s National Cookie Day, Papa.  Can we bake some chocolate chip cookies later tonight?”  Geez.  Rushed across the street to Ralph’s to pick up more brown sugar and some walnuts then headed home…

As I was pre-mixing the dry ingredients for her cookies, Jack rushes into the kitchen at 5:15 pm all excited.  He said, “Papaaa…  I forgot to tell you but there’s an orientation night at the high school.”

“Oh…OK.  When?” I ask.

“Toooo-night…” in a shy voice…

Holy crap!!  I never got a notification of the orientation but it turns out he had taken something home to his mama; of course, she didn’t bother sharing that with me!  Then double crap!  (There’s a triple crap coming.)  I had to pick up my daughter in 15 minutes but the orientation started at 6:00!  Arrgghh!

Throw some snacks into a bag, load my son hurriedly into the car, then zip off to her dance studio.  I was a few minutes late and she was waiting outside.  I am NEVER late when it comes to the kids and especially with my little girl.  As I hand her the snacks, I tell her she has to stay because…..  😦  Boy, did she get upset at my son…from a distance!

We get to the auditorium in the nick of time.

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We transitioned to a classroom later listening to the IT department head give his presentation when… the triple darn hits.  My phone starts vibrating…  It’s 6:45 pm…  It’s my little girl calling from the dance studio.  She forgot a piece of her dance clothes for her 7:30 class.  Geez.

I couldn’t leave Jack alone so I had to pull him out of the orientation and rush back to the dance school.  I picked her up to take her home as I have NO idea what “thing” she needs.  I take her back by 7:20 only to have to pick her up at 8:30.

With all the excitement, I had forgotten how many 1/4 cups of brown sugar I had put into the cookie mix.  Criminy.  Anyways, four batches of toll house cookies emerged… And the Little Cake Boss – she’s the one who wanted to bake the cookies for National Cookie Day – didn’t help…  She said she was too tired…  Arrgghh.

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Yielded about 40 cookies.

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Ah, the volcanoes…

I had been asking Jack where he would like to go on a Sunday especially since the last two months have been Brooke’s dance, dance, dance for competitions and dance “conventions” every weekend.  Saturdays and Sundays. Get up by 5:30 am.  Criminy.  I felt bad leaving him home but I had no other choice.

So at 10:30 pm on Saturday, he brings up the Mojave Road.  He would like to go there.  I looked it up.  It was a dirt road that makes the Baja 500 look like skateboarding on a sidewalk.  Sadly, I said we couldn’t go because it’s 4 x 4 terrain; plus, the rainstorms had made some sections really rough going.

Then he says, “Papa, isn’t the Subaru 4WD?”  Gadzooks.  I had to show him photos of the road damaged by flooding and how raised monster off-road vehicles even get stuck.  Besides, the car only has cheap two-ply street tires.  He was disappointed.  I asked him to pick somewhere else…after I had said to pick a place.  He decided on “Hole-in-the-Wall” in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve.  It’s roughly 240 miles from home… One way.  Man, you should have heard my daughter moan and groan while chomping on the toll house cookies her PAPA baked for HER.  She did NOT want to go!

“Jack!!  What are you going to do when we get there! Duh!” she asked, then stormed to her room.  Oh, man.  I feel sorry for her future boy friend.  Did I write that?  Where’s the backspace…

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Believe me, I’d rather fight Godzilla rather than getting the Little Cake Boss out of bed early on a Sunday.  Braving an apocalypse, I cracked open her door at 7:30 am; I escaped with just one black eye and a broken arm.  But we all managed to get into the car by 8 am.  Drove like crazy as it gets awfully cold and DARK real quick out in the desert.  We got there a little after noon.

Hole-in-the-Wall is an area where volcanoes spewed lava over millions of years.  Geologists theorize that uneven cooling of the layers of lava aided in creating pockets of trapped gasses within.  Through the eons, time had eroded away the lava layers, exposing these “holes”.  The plateaus surrounding the area were what remains of the tops of the original lava flows millions of years ago. It has also been rumored to have been a hideout for outlaws in the days of the Wild West.  Their saddles must have had built-in GPS to have been able to come back to this forsaken place.  If it weren’t for Sparklett’s making door-to-door deliveries, they wouldn’t have had water, either.

As this story is getting too long, some snaps by my son and I from Hole-in-the-Wall:

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Avoiding cacti and other thorny stuff… as well as tarantulas that wouldn’t fit in a dog cage.
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Some petroglyphs.

I encouraged Jack to take photos as there is an art show at his school early next year:

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Me bending down is out of the question so I encouraged Jack to take a photo of this dead plant.

This is his result:

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Jack’s photograph. Pretty darn cool!

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A billion cacti meant a gadzillion thorns.
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On the three mile desert hike that nearly killed me.
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Canon, baby.
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Another one of my son’s photos.
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There must be a zillion people smarter than me as we didn’t see a single car for over 20 minutes… but then we were trying avoid potholes the size of the Meteor Crater. Taken by Jack.
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Natural cotton gin.

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A last one from my son.

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Green Eggs and Ham… Not


So tonight, the kiddies asked if I could make something new.  Something different.

Not my Fettuccine Alfredo nor my grilled chicken with lemon and chive pan sauce nor my szechuan tofu…nor Hamburger Helper.

Nor green eggs and ham – but it was close.

They asked for bowtie pasta with (classic) pesto.

Like the one they ate at California Pizza Kitchen.

Egads.

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So Cook’s Illustrated came to my rescue again.  They had a recipe AND even a video!

Now…if I could only follow the instructions.  And I was determined NOT to leave a bag of groceries at the check out line like my blogging bud Jan Morrill did when she made pesto. 🙂

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Per Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe, the ingredients were simple:

2 “packed” cups fresh basil

2 tbsp “packed” flat leaf parsley (i.e., Italian parsley)

1/4 cup pine nuts (raw)

3 (skewered) garlic

7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano

(The trouble here in SoCal is the drought.  EVERYTHING is getting expensive.  Fresh pine nuts were $8.99 for a small carton!)

Also, note the type of parsley:

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It does taste different and with all that garlic, I felt the parsley was important. 🙂

Boil the water but do NOT salt yet.  Skewer the three cloves of garlic and submerge in the boiling water for about 30 seconds then plunge into an ice bath.  Mince but it needn’t be too fine as it will go into the processor.

After generously salting the boiling water, start to boil the pasta while keeping a measuring cup in the colander; you need to remember to reserve about 1/2 cup of the water.

After toasting the pine nuts in a skillet over medium low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, everything went into the food processor except for the Parmesan and the water.  Scrape down the sides with a spatula as necessary until you get a relatively smooth mixture.  You should still be able to make out small pieces of the basil.  (Oh, you had to put the basil and parsley into a Ziploc and pound it maybe a dozen times to bruise the leaves before throwing them into the processor.  Doing so helps release the savory oils.)  Salt as necessary.

This is what it should look like:

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The rest is easy.  When your pasta is al dente, reserve about 1/2 cup.  Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved water into the pesto along with the Parmesan.  Toss with the pasta and you’re done!