Tag Archives: kids

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 #7


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The Little Cake Boss Diva in her ballet class…to which she is always late to. Hell, she’s late to EVERY class.

She’s killing me, I tell ya.

My Little Cake Boss Diva.  Yes, she is.

She is an 石頭.  A rock head.  Perhaps even a boulder-sized rock.

But she didn’t get that from me.

Well, maybe just a wee bit.

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Five months ago, she asked for a new iPhone for Christmas.

“No.  You’re getting a Samsung Galaxy because I don’t understand Apple one bit…and you know, Bu-chan, that you will do something to that phone and I will have to waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to fix it.”

Well…  It was like talking to a…rock.

And yes, she got a new iPhone 5s.

I am weak.

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For several weeks, I had told her to back up her photos to flickr to get ready for her new phone.  Flickr’s free.  Besides, she is always complaining that her storage is maxed out.

…that I am going to trade in her old phone so all her selfies and pictures of her BFFs will be gone.  Poof.

So does she?  No…

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Both she and my son had concurrent science projects due for school at the same time.  Criminy.  I told forced threatened my son to do his 8th grade experiment EARLY because both their experiments – and resulting terror – fall on my shoulders.  Their mother refuses to take interest in their education.  Really.

Well, Brooke’s first experiment failed.  She wanted to see if there was an organic ant deterrent.  Trouble was, it was too cold for the ants to venture out en masse.  The ants didn’t come for the food, even when it was FREEEEEE (like the commercial).

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One attempt to get ants to munch on free food. No go.
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Another attempt to get ants to get free food. No go again.

So three weeks ago, and with her teacher’s blessing, we switched gears to see if there was any way to slow down mold from developing on her favorite berry – raspberries.

So for her experiment, I suggested pictures be taken from the beginning… so she did with her blessed iPhone.

I did, too.

“Papa!  See how you are?  You tell me to take pictures so I did.  … So don’t, okkaaay-ah?!”

“But Bu-chan, just in case… You know…”

“Nooooo-ah!  Why should I take them then?!” she mightily says in her valley girl talk.

I do as I’m told by my Little Cake Boss Diva, you know.

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Day One of her raspberry experiment.

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So she wraps up her experiment then starts to write up her results when she was with me a couple of weeks ago.  Then as she left for her mom’s for the week that Monday, I tell her to share her report with me via Google Drive so I can help her edit it during the week.  After all, the project is due the Thursday the week she comes back to me.

She reluctantly annoyingly says, “Okaaayyy-ah!”

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Next evening (Tuesday – she’s back with her mom, now.), I text her while she’s at her dance class, asking her about the report’s progress.  She was to email me a link to her document on Google Drive.

No reply.

So I thought, well, she’s busy chit-chatting girlie stuff with her friends.

Wednesday…  I text her to see if I can take her to dinner on Thursday since she has two hours between dance classes.  Same thing.  No answer.  Now my totally flat Asian nose is getting bent out of shape.

I get smart on Thursday.  I email her, too, on top of texting.  I even sent her some new flower pictures I took.  No answer!  Old Faithful is but a tea kettle compared to the steam coming out my ears.

Old Faithful. http://wyofile.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/old-faithful-yathin.jpg

I actually called her… She must have been shocked her iPhone not only texts but actually functions as a phone.  “Gee, is that my ringtone?” she must have thought.

But… NO ANSWER!  Old Faithful has become an volcanic eruption.

In a futile attempt, I email her mother telling her to have Brooke answer my texts.  The ex RARELY responds to any email or text although required by the divorce agreement.  Sure enough – no response.  Now I wish I had the twin .50 Browning machine guns Mustang_USMC has stashed away and hordes of ISIS jerks in front of me so I could take out my aggressions.

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Then… I find out my aunt pretty much admitted herself to a hospital far, far away.  It’s so far away that the Empire’s Death Star is at the halfway point.  Long story but she didn’t need the surgery; her quack doctor put it in her head that she needed it.

So my phone rings at 7:30 am on Saturday.  My aunt is calling from her hospital room and wants me to take her a dumb charger for her cell phone!  Crap.

Needless to say, it took my attention away from the Little Cake Boss Diva’s audacious behavior… and the science report.

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Monday comes.  The ex (who never answered my email, of course) is late dropping them off again but unbelievably, the Little Cake Boss Diva just smiles, gives me a hug then prances right into her room as if nothing’s wrong.  The nerve!  Old Faithful redux.

“Brooke!!  Why didn’t you answer my texts??!!!”

“Oh,” she begins with a not-my-fault smile, “the girls at dance on Tuesday figured out my password so I changed it.”

“What??!!  Why did they have your phone and what does changing a password have to do with your science project???  But why didn’t you answer my texts??!!  That’s the question!”

“Geez, you don’t have to get so mad!  So I changed the password…but couldn’t remember it…  So after I tried a number of times, it locked me out.  It’s a brick.  That’s all!”

“What?????!!!!!!!!!  That’s it??!!  Why didn’t you email me from your Galaxy Tab that I bought YOU when YOU broke your iPad and tell me???”  Accent on the caps.

“Oh…  Yeah…  I guess I should have…but I don’t know how to check my iPhone email on it because its an ANDROOOIDDD…  but can you fix my phone before I go to dance?  Please?”

OMFG.  I’m still cooking my Spaghetti al Limone.

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Some of the ingredients for my Spaghetti al Limone.

The tortoise could have made it to New York in the time it took me to figure out how to unlock it…but it had to be “set up as a new phone.”

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I pick her up at 7:30 pm after another one of her EIGHT dance classes.  Of course, she’s the last one to leave.  We get into the car.

I’m refocused now since she came back four hours ago…  “Brooke, how much more do you have on your science report?” I ask.

She’s texting like there’s no tomorrow on account she been deprived for a week.  “Well, I still have to write up my procedures, results and conclusion.  Yeah, I guess I should finish it tonight because its due tomorrow…………”

http://www.driever.nl/foto/achtergronden/JLM-NatGeo-Mount-St-Helens-1980-May-18.jpg

Mt. St. Helens has now exploded again; the top of my head is now missing.  “Tomorrow??  I thought it was Thursday???!!!!”

“Noooo-ah!  Why did you think that?”

*hit.

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After dinner then arguing for about an hour, she finishes the report but its in bits and pieces.  She had each section set up as a new document even though I sent her a template.  Criminy.

“Brooke, you need to insert your pictures of the experiment,” I said calmly.

“Umm…  Papa…  Remember YOU wiped out my phone when YOU restored it…”  Snicker.

“Didn’t you upload them to flickr like I said?”

“Noooo-ah,” she very matter-of-factly says.

OMFG…

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Luckily, I still had that ONE picture I took on Day One.  “See Brooke.  Even though you told me not to take any pictures, aren’t you glad I did?  Huh?  What do you say to that?!”

Silence.  That’s what she said to that.

She hates being wrong.

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It’s now 12:40 am…  She’s still trying to arrange her poster board display summarizing her project:

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12:40 am…

This whole thing is due in seven hours!

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Arrggghhh.

She finishes at 1:45 am…

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I took this at 7:30 am… and I stopped arguing with her about the contents because she is a rock head.  She didn’t get that from me, OK? 🙂

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Stay tuned…  Her Language Arts project is also due this Friday.  She is with her mom.  I sense a strong likelihood she will need to see me on Thursday to finish it.

Yes.  She will text me if she does… but I will reply because I have an Android phone. 🙂

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.

Homemade Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce


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I wanted to take a better picture but this was all the spaghetti that was left after we ate.

You must all be wondering.

What is a third generation Japanese-American doing trying to make Italian meatballs?

It’s as if you saw John Wayne behind the sushi counter asking if you want yellow tail or halibut.

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Well, the schedule has my kids staying this week for Spring Break…and they are bored.  They are so bored, they again asked, “What are we having for dinner tonight?  The same stuff, Papa?”

Egads.

Made them my killer (but now boring) Fettucine Alfredo with prosciutto and green peas Monday night and beef stroganoff yesterday night (with Jack removing every last mushroom from his plate).

From scratch.  None of this sauce out of a bottle or Hamburger Helper stuff.

So….  My son Jack seems to like meatballs for some reason.  He gets it at Subway and at this Italian restaurant in Belmont Shores.  The last time he did, I told him I’d make it.

So I did.

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Just wanted to throw in a random photo… but that pot does have the basil I keep growing for cooking use. When it’s growing good, I use it as a backdrop for my macro pics. BTW, its a picture of a picture of a picture…of chalk. 🙂

I had heard many horror stories about making meatballs.

They were hard like golf balls.

They were just round hamburgers.

So I went to my trusted cooking bible: Cook’s Illustrated.

Their recipes are the Triple T’s: tasty, tried and true and only (old) male buffoons like me can mess them up.  I’ve proven that.

But it turns out their secret ingredient was… buttermilk.  Crazy.  But it worked out wonderfully.  And you used only the egg yolk; using the whole egg does something to the texture, Cook’s Illustrated said.

The ingredients for the meatballs were:

  • 3/4 pound ground chuck (85/15 ground beef can be substituted)
  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Two slices white bread (with the crusts cut off) cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano (my preference)
  • One minced garlic clove
  • Two tbsp minced parsley (I used the broad leaf Italian parsley to make up for my being Japanese-American)
  • One egg yolk
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • Pepper to taste

The ingredients for the spaghetti sauce were:

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • One minced garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 tbsp minced basil
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My rolled meatballs. In hindsight, they should have been a bit bigger… and if you’re wondering what the cardboard egg carton is for, it’s a great (disposable) way to drain your fried foods.

For the meatballs:

  1. Soak the bread in the buttermilk for 10 minutes, crushing the bread occasionally to break it down.  Do not drain.
  2. Combine all the meatball ingredients in large bowl.  (I slice through the mixture using a fork to bring it all together rather than using my hand to mix it.  Keeps the mixture loose.)
  3. Form meatballs (without compressing) about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, rolling mixture in hands.  Set aside.  Complete for remaining mixture.
  4. Heat 1/4″ vegetable oil in 10″ skillet.  (I don’t recommend non-stick.)
  5. Carefully drop meatballs one by one into oil; they should sizzle.  If your skillet is big enough, you may be able to do them in one batch.
  6. Adjusting the flame, keep them sizzling while making sure ALL sides are browned.  Perhaps ten minutes. (I made the mistake of having the heat too high and the meatballs too small.)
  7. Drain.

For the spaghetti sauce:

  1. Drain the oil from the skillet.  Return to range.  Pat away most of the oil BUT leave all the yummy crusty stuff on the bottom.
  2. Heat then pour in about a couple tablespoons olive oil and garlic.  Scrape up all the crusties on the bottom as best you can. Do not burn garlic; no more than 30 seconds.
  3. Carefully pour in the crushed tomatoes.  Continue to scrape up remaining crusties then bring to boil.
  4. Turn down heat then simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add basil and meatballs then simmer for five more minutes.
  6. Adjust seasoning.

They suggested reserving a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  After draining the al dente spaghetti¹ and returning it to the pot, add back the pasta water and a couple of ladles of the sauce.

Coat then portion out your spaghetti from the still warm pot onto dishes.  Pour a bit more sauce onto pasta, top with three meatballs.  Your kiddies can add Parmesan Reggiano to their liking.

Bon Appetit!

(No, I am not Julia Child.  You are sadly mistaken.)

Note 1: Use ample water; I use more than a gallon for a pound of pasta.  Also add one tablespoon salt immediately before adding pasta.  Stir to make sure they don’t stick together then cover to bring back to boil as soon as you can.  Uncover then rigorously boil for recommended time for al dente.