Friday, May 31, 2013

Pic of the Week

"Full Swing: 
When playing mini golf, always aim for your sister."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blue Eye's "Buy" Dinner

Skipped on "pic of the week" and I'm sorry about that.  We spent the holiday weekend over on Catalina Island for our second annual "Grandma's Birthday Celebration" and it slipped my mind.  We had a wonderful time though - the girls got to run rampant through the 5 bedroom house with their cousins in a massive, bait ball of children; we rented kayaks, we golfed (both real AND mini), we danced, we karaoked, we toured the island on a supped up golf cart. ... it was wonderful.  But perhaps the most interesting thing that happened in our four days there came on Sunday night at dinner.  My sister and one of my nieces had left for the mainland already, but we still had a full table of 9 for dinner out at a waterfront Italian joint.  So Rosaline gets the seat at the head of the table which places her in close proximity to a middle aged couple at a nearby table perpendicular to ours.  The man comments on Rosaline's "beautiful blue eyes" and her curly head of hair, to which she flirts back with all the confidence of super model.  The moment passes and we go back to our respective meals.  About 15 minutes later, however, the waiter walks up to us at the other end of the table.  He leans in and in a hushed voice says, "Keep this on the down low, but this gentleman at the other table would like to pick up your meal tonight.  He asked me not to say anything but he also wanted to add another round of drinks and I didn't want to bring them out with out you being aware of the situation."  And then he leaves. ... and we're all left to scratch our heads.  What do we do?  He said not to say anything, but a meal for 9 with two rounds of drinks at a waterfront restaurant on an island none the less, isn't chicken scratch.  I can't help myself and I stutter a "thank you" attempting to blend gratitude and "no big deal" into one phrase.  He smiles, and as they begin to collect their things he offers only "Pay it forward."   And with that, they exit.  Bizarre.  Inexplicable.  Amazing.  My girls aren't old enough to appreciate a gesture like that.  But some day they will be.  And I hope that I'm in a position in life that I can be that generous to the strangers around me.  So they can see an example like that, and strive to match it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sink or Swim

With summer officially in full swing (in California we have to seasons: Summer and Summer Lite), it's time once again to get in the pool for swim lessons.  Since we moved, it's no longer feasible for the girls to go to Ms. Joanie any more - and her brilliance as a swim instructor is going to be missed.  However, we found a replacement starting lessons in our community so the girls were signed up and ready to go.  One of the downfalls of children with a stay at home parent is they tend to have apprehension when it comes to new situations, mainly those in which that stay at home parent is not allowed to get involved.  We know this all too well, so we started prepping the girls weeks ago in anticipation of this moment.  And by prepping I mean bribing.  The girls will get new princess costumes to add to their boudoir if they go all the way through lessons with out giving anyone a hard time.  And for this first lesson, if they made it with out crying, they would get a new toy.  We even went so far as to buy the toy already and hold it hostage until they proved themselves worthy.  I came home early so I could take part and all through the drive there, the walk up, the disrobing the girls were adamant they would not cry and they would do "great".  Standing on the first step of the pool and both were in hysterics.  Damn it!  Gina and I self banished ourselves to the club house.  We slowly made our way back about 15 minutes later and the new Ms. Julie must have worked some sort of magic because both were laughing and going about the lesson with out a hitch.  Genevieve even gave her instructor pointers as she waited on the steps for her turn (love that my kid learning to swim is telling the teacher how to teach the subject she doesn't know. ... high school should be fun).  Anyway, I think this should prove to be a good fit, even if we traded Ms Joanie for Ms Julie.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Children Belong to Us All

I had a light, humerus story to share with you today.  It had been bouncing around in my head all weekend just waiting for some free time to write it down.  I don't remember what it was anymore.  Two generations ago my ancestors made a decision to move west, toward the sunshine and ocean breezes of Southern California.  What they left behind was a farming community in a land locked State of Oklahoma.  This isn't to say, somehow, that I'm tied to that community through ancient neighborhood ties or that some how I'm suffering as heavy as they are from the loss of people I have no real ties to.  I'm not looking for condolences.  I'm simply pointing out the "what if's".  More heart wrenching, however, is the "what if's" when you look at the pile of rubble that once was a school.  A mud coated, blood soaked, crying child is everyone's.  There's no identity there - and we quickly impose our own.  We see our own child's school, our own daughter's broken bike, our own son's missing shoe.  Our hearts cry out over the grief of parents we've never met but can so easily relate to.  Their agony we feel so easily at the mere thought of it being us in their stead.  We switched over from the news a while later and watched a movie that Gina rented: the Impossible.  Though it's been years since that wave devastated South East Asia, though once again I feel myself connected.  My father was a survivor, one of the few actually in the water at the time who lived.  He was scuba diving in Phuket when he suddenly found himself in a tree a mile or so inland.  He survived with heavy damage to his leg, but he survived none the less.  His fiance did not.  So I was already watching this movie with weighted heart when the story of a young family unfolded and I watched as their three school aged sons - and the countless other children - experienced the horrifying power of mother nature.  Once again I place my children in their spot.  Imagine the horror of a parent dealing with the loss, the unknown, the fragile heart of parenthood as it is shattered by uncontrollable, incomprehensible nature.  As I closed up the house that night, locked the doors, tucked in their safe and warm, sleeping little bodies, I crouched on the floor for a moment to thank Karma for her nightly bedside vigilance, and I thanked a god I haven't spoken to for some time that I've not had to deal with the reality of such heart ache.  To feel even an ounce of that weight through this bond of parenting is more then can fathom.  Though it offers them no real condolences as they deal with their losses, I hope they know we see them all as our own children.  We grieve with them.  We cry for them.  We pray, even those of us that haven't in a while, for their souls.  Because the children, they belong to us all.

Monday, May 13, 2013


It was a long Mother's Day yesterday.  Gina had festival in Bakersfield on Saturday but was determined to be home Sunday morning for her special day.  So she drove through the night and rolled into bed a little after 3AM.  Of course, with kids there's always a 7AM wake up call.  So she was pretty much running on fumes the entire day.  We then headed out to her aunt's house, which is about 2 hours from us, for a day of excess swimming in the oven like heat that hit So Cal over the weekend (didn't drop below 80 at our house until about 2AM this morning).  So by the time we made it home, got everyone into bed and mustered the energy to pour a Margarita, neither of us could be pried from the couch.  That is until, in the ominous dark and silence, we heard a toilet flush upstairs.  There were a few thoughts running through my head: 1) I'm so proud of whoever got up and went to the bathroom all on their own, 2) who dared to get up from bed on their own, 3) I hope she wiped and 4) which of us is going to go up and check on this?  It's Mother's Day (and she made  no movement at all) so I got up and trudged upstairs to investigate.  The light in the bathroom was off, and the bedroom door was only slightly ajar so my first thought was she went back to bed. .. how cool.  Nope!  As I passed the dark bathroom I saw a silhouette moving around.  Sure enough, there was Genevieve, standing on a stool and checking herself out in the mirror. ... in the dark. ... wearing her bloody high heels!  WTF?!  I looked at her, just a look, and she fell to pieces: "I'm sorry Daddy, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" I couldn't even come up with a response.  So I hugged her, slipped her heels off and slid her back into bed.  All I could say as I descended the stairs, shaking my head and Gina asked what that was all about. ... "What the F....?"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Contraband Under the Mattress

So, if you haven't followed us in a while (and based on my posting frequency it's been a while even for those who have followed) my wife (and by default my children) are Greek.  While the rest of you were honorary Mexicans for Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, we were still firmly Greeks; celebrating the Orthodox Easter (although we still had Corona's on hand).  It's the one holiday we don't have to split between the families so it's nice.  And I needed to lay the ground work so you didn't think I was REEAALLLY behind in my story telling as I start into this "Easter" story.  So the girls had round two of eggs and candy; Yiayia had bought them new little zantas (purses) for the occasion, and through out the day they kept them close at hand - even opting to use them in liu of their usual Easter baskets on the egg hunt.  Now, we're probably a little on the conservative side when it comes to what goes in our children's food.  With a yoga instructor mom and a marathon running dad. ... you can assume we limit the candy intake.  We're not total prudes (our wedding reception tables were named after our favorite ice cream flavors instead of numbers and we had scoopers trail the limo instead of cans) but we do monitor and track how much, and of what, they eat.  So we let them have few pieces on the day of the party and the rest were to be save for a later time.  Unbeknowwnst to us, Genevieve determined that "later time" for herself.  Fast forward 12 hours and Gina wakes up for Monday morning, Arianna having crawled in to snuggle a bit some hour or so earlier.  It's not Arianna that wakes her, however. ... it's Karma. ... Karma who is feverishly trying to get something off her back side. ... which turns out to be Starbursts candies. ... plural. ... which are stuck on her butt.  It doesn't take long for Gina to track the source back to the girls bedroom and from their Genevieve's bed; which is strewn with candy wrappers like crime scene of the M&M's guys' murders.  The child is also wet because her hands are sticky with evidence and she's been trying to wash them before she's caught, literally with her hand in the candy jar.  Naturally she denies it.  It must be someone else's bed; someone else's candy; the dog must have done it.  Oh she tried them all on for size.  Her purse, the one that she clutched all day, had made it into bed with her that night.  And the sneaky little candy junky had loaded it up when no one was paying attention.  Very clever little one. But guess who's candy intake just had it's monitoring level doubled up?  I'll give you a hint. ... it's not the dog.

Monday, May 6, 2013

No, I'm Daddy

I try, for a moment, to put myself in the mind of my children as they attempt to learn this complex form of communication we call English.  We think it so easy - some of us - as we've been spouting verbal vomit for decades with out a second thought - though some of us should really reconsider how much we talk.  But here are these newbies who have the same volume of thought rushing through their rapidly developing brains and yet they can't quite connect the dots to turn that thought into a communication to the world around them.  It must be frustrating.  I patiently listen as Genevieve gets choked up on a particular word "Daddy, I; Daddy; Daddy I; Daddy; Daddy; I; Daddy I forgot."  Or Arianna stumbles through a multi syllable word with all the grace of an ice skater in bowling shoes.  But they're in a much better place.  At least they've mastered the basics.  They can tell you a host of things. ... sometimes in ridiculously unnecessary specifics.  Don't ask about the movie Brave. ... you'll be cornered for an hour and a half listening to in depth arguments over why little girls should not turn their mothers into bears.  Riveting.  But then there's Rosaline.  She's been verbally restricted for a year and a half and she's finally breaking through the damn and attempting to speak to the world around her.  But, like a new born fawn, she's shaky and prone to misstep.  Her particular difficulty, at least the one that most concerns me, is in remembering my name.  I'll be enwrapped in some other task and I'll feel a slight tug on my pants "Momma, galla!"  "I'm Daddy", I'll respond.  "Momma?"  "No. ... Daddy."  Sometimes I feel like I"m arguing with a squirrel.  Standing over her, hands on my hips "I'm Daddy."  To which she stares up at me blankly, big doe eyes in a confused peak.  "Momma?"  "No, I'm still Daddy."  She could care less, as long as she's got my attention my name is pointless.  "Galla?"  Fine.   Two minutes later, "Momma, coco?"  I'm Daddy!  If you want the cookie it would serve you well to get my name right."  "Coco?"  [sigh] "Fine!  I'm envisioning a problem through the remainder of our relationship.  She'll go through elementary school with "two moms".  Her future dates will have to meet her Mom first before they can go out.  Her Mom will walk her down the aisle at her wedding and we'll dance the Mother/Daughter dance as I pass her off to her new spouse.  We'll have Mother's Day in May and then again in June. The only question left is when she has children of her own will I be a Gammie, a Grandma or - going with the Greeks - a Yiayia. ... oh the choices I have before me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

High Heels? Really?!

It's been a while; thought I forgot about you, huh?!  No, just bidding my time, waiting for something epic to write about.  I've kind of felt that my posts and experiences were diminishing in interesting nature (at least to you readers; personally I find every moment breath taking).  There had been no milestones or truly amazing experiences to share with you all.  But, alas, we've stumbled upon such a moment.  High heels.  High heels signify more than just stylish footwear.  They symbolize maturity.  Grown ups wear high heels.  Princesses wear high heels.   But, that's why the girls so desperately want to wear them, trampling around clumsily in their mom's size 10's at every opportunity to do so.  Usually with out cloths on because they find they're way in to her closet almost every night as the bath is being drawn.  I hope this doesn't become habit.  Naked high heels strolls, not baths.  Anyway, I came home the other day to a horrifying vision - the girls.... in their OWN high heels.  Now I know some of you are disgusted with us, 3 1/2 year olds don't need high heels.  Whatever.  This was not my thought.  My thought was simply, "what happened to my babies?!"  Regardless of their need for such shoes, the reality is they are already moving toward that direction. Their already wanting to grow up.  Already wanting to be women and not children.  Already wanting to be done with me.  Well, I'm not ready to be done with.  I'm not.  I'm not, I'm not, I'm NOT!!!!! Maturity sucks.