Thursday, October 26, 2006

Giving Equal Time

Kyra walked in as I was putting the finishing touches on my last blog and asked me what I was doing. "Writing a story," I told her and she hopped up into my lap and asked me to read it to her. I did, and every time I read Kailey's name, Kyra slumped a little further down in my lap.

"You always write about Kailey," she pouted. I told her that she was in the story and that she needed to be patient. I finished reading my blog entry and she was still in a huff. "You only wrote my name ONE TIME." Oh dear Lord in heaven, help me.

So my entry today is merely an attempt to level the playing field and restore harmony in my humble abode...I almost wrote that with a straight face, as if there was EVER harmony in my home!

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This year, Kyra will be dressing up as Princess Leia minus the wig (she apparently doesn't like wigs), and in the spirit of giving my girls equal blog-time, here is a funny Kyra Halloween story:

A couple of mornings ago, Kyra wandered into our bedroom in the wee hours of the morning and shook Diane awake. Both of us were fast asleep and totally out of it. In fact, I was so out of it that I never heard this exchange take place. This is Diane's recollection. So Kyra shook Diane awake, "Mommy, Mommy...when is Halloween." Like it's frickin' Christmas or something. Diane, aroused from a deep sleep, thought Kyra was asking about Disney World and groggily replied, "It's over, Sweetie."

"WE MISSED IT! NOOOOOO..." Kyra wailed and ran from our room bawling. Diane had to chase after her and console her. How I didn't hear all of this commotion, I do not know. But I'm glad.

As long as I'm giving equal time, I may as well share the costume I picked out for Diane that she vehemently declined to wear:

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I still can't win.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

These Boots Are Made for Walkin'

It all started with a Halloween costume.

This year for Halloween, Kailey decided she wanted to be a pirate princess, whatever that is. I think she just wanted to be a pirate, but since she's been a princess of some kind (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.) for the past several Halloweens, she thought it would sound better if she added "princess" to the end. Fine. Pirate princess it is.

I jumped online to look for a pirate princess costume, and, more importantly, to find out how much it was going to set us back. Mommy's don't think about those kinds of things. Daddy's do. I visited about 300 websites looking for pirate princess costumes. All of them had them, but most were sold out of Kailey's size. It seems that only "small" girls will be dressing up as pirate princesses this year. (I also found some pirate queen costumes for Diane, but she politely declined...after giving me a disgusted look.)

I finally found a costume in Kailey's size and was shocked to see that it cost nearly $60. Kailey loved it. Great. I didn't care that I had already scoured 300 websites. I would scour 300 more before I spent 60 bucks on a Halloween costume (again).

I continued my quest for a pirate princess costume, and, AH HA, found one that looked good for $22. I showed it to Kailey and she liked it! HALLELUJAH (you have to sing it like the song). I ordered the costume, all the while doing a happy dance in my head. The happy dance stopped when I was later informed by Diane that she and Kailey needed to go shopping for boots. You see, the girl in the pirate princess picture was wearing boots. But boots were not included in the costume. Crap.

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So, the costume arrived a few days later, and off went Diane and Kailey to go boot shopping. I was at work when Diane called to give me the play-by-play. The boots Kailey liked were $40. FORTY DOLLARS. But, the good news was that the store was having a two-for-one sale, so Diane bought a pair of boots, too, and got Kailey's boots for free. Women can rationalize their way through anything. And I'm freakin' surrounded by them, outnumbered three to one. I think they spent $65 on both pair, which isn't bad, but still...I could see my Halloween costume savings disappearing before my eyes.

You can probably see what's coming. Diane got a pair of boots. Kailey got a pair of boots. Kyra was at Grammy and Papa's house.

So guess where we went on Sunday? We spent another $25 on boots for Kyra and now all of my girls are happy as clams. What did I get out of the whole deal? The satisfaction of knowing my girls are happy as clams.

I can't win.

Old Friends

Last night I talked to an old friend, my best friend from high school, for the first time in about 13 years. After I hung up, I thought about what had kept us out of touch for so long. It's not like we had a fight or a falling out. I think that life just got too busy, coupled with the fact that I do a really lousy job of keeping in touch with friends from the past.

It seems that I get too wrapped up in the present, in the now, to take the time to reach out and keep the ones who have mattered most to me in the past involved in my present. Truth is, I haven't really kept in touch with anyone from my past, outside of an irregular Christmas card that we manage to send out every two years. That's pretty sad.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that may well be true. Lord knows that I have enough of them. I often entertain thoughts of "I should e-mail this person", but I seldom ever do (By the way, it's always "e-mail", never "call"...that would be far too scary. Last night, my friend called me. Good for him!). I need to carry through on those thoughts more often.

Oddly enough, my friend and I reconnected through MySpace, of all things. I joined "MyWaste", as I call it a few months ago at the badgering of a few of my younger colleagues at work. "I'm too old for this" I kept thinking, but I joined anyway. I did, however, set my profile to private in a vain attempt to preserve any last shred of dignity. He saw that I had an account, created an account of his own and contacted me. The rest is history. So I guess MySpace isn't that much of a waste after least not in this case.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Less Than PERFECT Dining Experience

Our Disney World vacation was really an in-law family reunion of sorts. All of Diane's immediate family and their families gathered for five days of non-stop, "Happiest Place on Earth", amuse-yourself-to-death, fun. The cast of characters included Diane's parents, affectionately known as Grammy & Papa; her brother David and his wife and two boys; her sister, Debbie; and of course the four in our family, bringing the grand total of our party to eleven.

OK, so on our first day at Disney World, my sister-in-law, Debbie, made dinner reservations at one of the resort restaurants. We were a larger party so they couldn't accomodate us until 8:00 pm. Fine. We spent the day at the Magic Kingdom and returned to our rooms in the early evening for a little R & R and to get cleaned up for dinner. We arrived at the restaurant early for our 8:00 pm "reservation" and were told that our table wasn't ready yet. That's when the wait for our "reservation" began.

At first the kids were pretty good, wandering around and checking out all of the cool decorations and knick-knacks adorning the hotel lobby. In the center of the lobby was a gigantic globe, and outside the restaurant was a replica (or actual...I'm not sure) of a ship's wheelhouse complete with buttons and switches and, of course the large wooden wheel. These captivated their attention for awhile, but when you're waiting for an unspecified amount of time with four kids under the age of 7, bad things can happen. Soon all of them were designated to their own chair with the threat of immanent bodily harm should they move.

At this point, our wait for our "reservation" stretched to twenty minutes, and all the while the hostess kept seating smaller parties of two, four, and even six people. Finally, Debbie ventured over and asked how much longer it would take to seat us. The details here are a little foggy, since I was busy threatening the children, but at some point in the conversation the hostess revealed that they didn't take "reservations" and that their "reservations" were actually more like "priority seating". Uncle Dave joined in the fray over what EXACTLY the difference was between a "reservation" and "priority seating", and, more importantly, why were still waiting even though we had arranged for what we thought was a "reservation" but in reality was just "priority seating".

The restaurant manager eventually got involved in the debate and solved it immediately. "No, this is a reservation," she explained to the hostess. Ah, a bright spot in this tale. We still had to wait another five minutes while they prepped our table, since our "priority seating reservation" clearly had not been a priority to them. The hostess finally led us to our table, and as I entered the restaurant, my jaw hit the floor. THE PLACE WAS HALF-EMPTY (or half-full, depending on your this point, I was in a half-empty kind of mood)!!! You would have thought that they were bursting at the seams, but they were actually too lazy to strategically seat the smaller parties and push a couple of tables together for us!

Now usually when a restaurant screws up enough to get the manager involved, the rest of the staff bend over backwards to make sure the rest of your meal/experience there is positive. Usually. But our restaurant folly had just begun. The waitress arrived, apologized for our wait, and informed us that our meal was discounted by 20%. At least they were moving in the right direction, and we all gave her a heartfelt thanks. She proceeded to take our drink order, and I chose a pinot noir from the wine list. "That's a brand new menu that we just got in today," she explained. "We don't have either of the pinot noirs in yet."

"Then why are you giving me this menu?" I thought to myself. I was about to share my thoughts with her, but decided against it and instead asked her what they had in a red. She suggested a cabernet sauvignon and I agreed. She left and presumably turned in our drink order, then returned and took our dinner order without incident. A short while later our drinks came, all except the wine that my sister-in-law and I ordered.

In the meantime, my brother-in-law, Dave, returned from the all-you-can-eat salad and desert bar that he ordered with his dinner. He was the only one in our party to order this and he brought an assortment of rolls for the kids to keep them occupied. He made a couple of trips to the buffet for this purpose. It is key to keep the kids happy.

The manager then made a visit to our table to see how things were going. Fine, except that our wine was MIA. She assured us that she would take care of it right away. She disappeared to the front of the restaurant and reappeared a minute later...wineless. "I'm so sorry, we are out of that wine." She apologized. I just laughed. Our dinner woes had become comical. I calmly explained to her that we were now attempting to order our fourth glass of wine and asked her to bring us anything that was red and good. She apologized again, though this time I could tell that she was more than a little aggravated at her staff's incompetence, and hurried off to fulfill our drink order.

The manager returned a short while later, wine in hand, and told us that the wine was free of charge. Duh. She saw the kids chomping on their dinner rolls and asked us if we would like MORE rolls. Up to this point we had received NO dinner rolls. These rolls were commandeered from the salad bar by uncle Dave. "Oh, rolls come with the dinner?" my wife, Diane, asked. It was an honest question, completely void of cynicism. The poor restaurant manager nodded nervously. "PER-FECT!!" Diane shrieked and all of us burst out in laughter.

The manager retreated like a whipped puppy, tail between her legs. She was beginning to loathe our table. I am happy to say that we were not mean-spirited in any way the whole evening, and it paid off. The food was delicious as was the wine, and we received several baskets of rolls. Our 20% discount was also increased to 50%. In the end they did the right thing. But all of it was so easily avoidable. I wonder how much money they're losing by covering up their mistakes. It just boggles my mind. At any rate, our PERFECT dining experience will always be good for a good laugh.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Disney World...It Ain't No Disneyland!

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Disney World blows.

OK, perhaps that's a bit harsh. Let me back up and start over. We just returned from a week at Disney World. It's the first time I've been back there in probably 25 years. It's grown. A lot. I've been to the Disney counterpart in California several times in the past four years, and each time has been great. We loved our Disneyland vacations and looked forward to our time at Disney World.

By now you're thinking, "He must have had a horrendous experience there." That's not true. We had a good vacation. We created a lot of memories that I hope to carry with me the rest of my life. But it wasn't a great vacation. It wasn't Disneyland. And here's why:

  1. It's too damn big and spread out. Disney World consists of four (4) amusement parks, two (2) water parks, one (1) major shopping and night-life area, and God-knows how many other attractions like golf courses and mini-golf...none of which are connected. It's all spread out and you have to take a bus, boat or monorail to get to each area. Close to two hours of the day was spent waiting for and riding various means of transportation to one of the parks.
  2. Poor service. The service at Disney World is still better than probably 90% of the businesses out there. But it wasn't as good as what we experienced at Disneyland. I suspect this is a result of #1: that it's too big and therefore hard to find the quality of help they need. At Disneyland, there are immediate results to your requests. At Disney World, there are excuses as to why your requests can't be met or why it takes so long to fulfill your requests. I hate excuses.

My next few posts will be stories of our Disney World experience...some good, some bad, some ugly. Sorry. I couldn't resist. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

They Continue to Amaze Me

I don't know if this is the time of year when lizards hatch, but lately it seems like there are hundreds of the little suckers running around. They're cute...about three inches long...and FAST. It's amazing how quickly they can scale a wall or scurry across the rocks. I think they're cool, but I could see how some people would be a little freaked out at the sight of them zipping for cover. It also amazes me what freaks out my girls and what doesn't. There is no formula; no rhyme or reason.

My girls hate bugs. The size or shape does not matter...gnat, ant, fly, beetle...they hate 'em. They'll squish 'em, swat at 'em, scream at 'em, scream for me to swat and squish 'em...they hate bugs. But they LOVE lizards. Allow me to introduce you to Peter the Lizard:

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He's a cute little guy, huh?

As we headed to the back yard to play and mow the lawn (one guess as to who got to do what), the girls noticed one of these cruising the wall. "LIZARD!! GET IT!! GET IT!!" Scared me half to death. The lizard too. It ran for its life as the girls gave chase, and it quickly darted into the safety of the neighbor's oleander bushes. The girls were devastated.

I consoled them and when I felt like I had sufficiently fulfilled my fatherly duties, turned my attention to the lawn. On my first pass I noticed movement in the river rock that lies between our patio and the lawn. Lizard. I called the girls over and we spent several minutes tracking it, overturning rocks to reveal its hiding place, and generally giving the little guy a heart attack. This time the girls seemed content to merely observe the lizard, so I returned to the lawn.

A few minutes later I heard Kailey scream over the hum of the mower. "Daddy, I got him!! I GOT HIM!!" Never in a million years did I think the girls could catch one of those things without first squishing it. I was afraid to look. Or worse, what if it was still alive. I envisioned the lizard taking off up Kailey's arm and down her body, or into her shirt sleave! I could see her going into a convulsive tirade, screaming, "Get it off!!" I sprung into action.

The lizard was surprisingly docile. It was perfectly content to sit in Kailey's hand. Whew! Either that or it was so freakin' scared that it didn't want to move. Probably the latter. I finished the lawn, and the girls spent the next half-hour taking turns holding "Peter". Why Peter? I have no idea.

We eventually released Peter near the rose bushes in the back of our yard. As we watched him go on his merry way, Kyra noticed a spider web in one of the bushes. They freaked.


On Growing Up

Sometimes my kids can completely throw me for a loop, in a good way. Tonight as I was tucking Kailey in was one of those times. Every night I usually ask the girls what the favorite part of their day was and why. Then we talk about the day and all the things we had done. Kailey finished telling me about how riding her bike without training wheels made her feel all grown up. I was humored by the thought. I wish it were that simple. In a way it's certainly true. I feel "grown up" when I accomplish something that's personally significant: hanging a ceiling fan (without getting electrocuted), writing a song, grilling the perfect steak. I could definitely relate to what she was saying. That's when she hit me with the question.

"Daddy, do you ever wish you were a kid again?"

About a million things went through my mind at once. It was a simple question, but it seemed so mature coming from the mouth of, well, a kid. I could see one of my friends, one of my peers posing the question, but from my seven year-old daughter? It completely took me by surprise.

On the one hand, it would be nice to not have to worry about all the things we adults concern ourselves with. To have the luxury of playing the afternoons away. But then I remembered school, the tests, the peer pressure, the first love, the heartbreaks, PUBERTY, and I was instantly glad to be an adult. And that's what I told her. Well, everything but the puberty part. That's a whole other can of worms. One that I'll let Mommy deal with, thank you very much.

Truth is, part of me still feels like a kid and it's hard to believe I've been on this earth for 37 years. I still experience those "grown up" moments of satisfaction and I hope to continue to experience them for the rest of my life. I think that's part of the joy of living, the satisfaction of a job well-done.


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