San Diego Heaven!

My friend, Dasha & I met during our San Diego college days when we worked as counselors at a YMCA surf camp on Kauai one summer.

dash & kim

Dash was the super on it, responsible counselor who once plucked a gaggle of Japanese campers from a riptide at Lumahai Beach. I was the derelict counselor who read Jaws to the kids by the campfire and looked away when they bought wine coolers at the ABC market. I don’t know why Dasha wanted to be friends with me, but thankfully she did, and after that summer we were attached at the velcro JimmyZ skirts we rocked back in the ’80s.

Every summer Dash and her family graciously allows the Rattypack to descend upon their Del Mar pad. Last year we punked Saxon royally.  We reinjected his Twinkies with Ranch dressing (see Tale of the Tainted Twinkie). I was really hoping to torture him again this year. And, although we alluded to lacing his Hersey’s Cookies & Cream mini-cereal box with laxitive—”How’s your tummy feeling, Sax?”—we sadly ran out of time.

Ever since our Kauai days, Dash and I have been soul sisters of the sea, so we literally spent every second of our visit in the water. We stand up paddle boarded in La Jolla, as grey bellied seals, leopard sharks and brilliant orange garabaldi flitted through the aqua water beneath us. We boogie boarded mondo  surf in Del Mar, careening down waves at eyeball level in a rush of sound and foam. And then, we pruned ourselves to the max sipping apres beach martinis in her jacuzzi.

But even mermaids need to eat, so we headed to Herringbone in La Jolla. If you visit San Diego, this restaurant is a must! Located in a former warehouse, the decor is fabulous…

olive tree:bar

100-year olive trees grow between the tables.

Loved this wall of dried pufferfish!
Loved this wall of dried pufferfish!

There were fireplaces blazing, an array of coral and barnacles, and inside the belly of an amazing light fixture hanging over the bar, this cool whale skeleton…

whale bones

The food was massively delicious! If you go, be sure to order the whole fish ceviche…

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…the crab pasta in brown tarragon butter, and for desert, the Herringbone Sundae—chocolate ice cream, sea salt blondies, marshmallow cream, caramelized nibs drizzled espresso caramel.

Dasha and I were also busy trying to get our teenagers to interact. As you can see, the kids have hung out since they were little…

so little…but for some reason this trip they acted as if they’d never met. Luckily, Dash and I tapped into our inner camp counselors and made them play a raucous game of TABOO together on the beach. Here’s a snippet of the game:

Dash: Okay!!! This is something that happens on the 4th of July or Christmas WHERE A LOT OF PEOPLE WALK DOWN THE STREET!!!!”

Lauren: Mom! You’re being really loud. Is it fireworks?

Dash: NO!!!! THEY WILL OFTEN WEAR COSTUMES!!!

Makena: Mom, please the whole beach is staring. Will you lower your voice? Is it Halloween?

Dash: NOOOOO, it’s NOT HALLOWEEN!!!! SOMETIMES THERE WILL BE MARCHING BANDS!!!!!

Makena: Shhhhhh!!! Oh I know, it’s a parade!

Kim: GOOD JOB, MAKENA!!!!!

Tanner & Sax: Pipe it, Mom. You’re such a grenade!

Needless to say, the teens FINALLY bonded over their loud, dorky moms.

Glad we could help, kids!
Glad we could help, kids!

Dash and I also love to shop. She was busy preparing for an upcoming camping trip, so  I headed up the PCH to Laguna Beach where I discovered Tuvalu, a darling beach chic home furnishings boutique where I could have done serious damage…

Drooling over this double oyster shell chandelier~only $4,500!
Drooling over this double oyster shell chandelier~only $4,500!

 Oh, and this bottle rack chandelier was killer, too. Price upon request so you know it was BANK!

billion dollar bottle rack chandy

Really loved this aqua anchor tricked out with lights, too.
Really loved this aqua anchor tricked out with lights, too.

bottle with sea glass beads

Lucky for Jimmy, my only purchase was this vintage bottle bedecked with a strands of seaglass. I love the colors. They remind me of the hues of the ocean in beautiful San Diego.

While the sparkly boutique finds were gorgeous, our trip reminded me that long lasting, friendships where you can grab your boogie board and pick up right where you left off, are life’s best treasures.

four of us at Herrybone

Can’t wait to come back & visit next year!010

The Mystery of the Disappearing Silver Bullet

A few weeks ago we headed to Squaw Valley in Tahoe. We were pumped to do our favorite hike to Shirley Lake, so we hopped on the tram, which in eight minutes, whisked us to the top o’ the mountain.

As much as we love Squaw’s snowy peaks during winter, the mountain is gorgeous during summer.

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The chair lifts sit silent and still.

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The ski runs are carpeted in wildflowers.

Double blue squares are silhouetted against a cloudless azure ski.

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Before hiking to Shirley Lake, we decided to climb the steep face of the Emigrant chair lift, which was still covered with patches of not so fluffy, brown snow. Nonetheless at the top, we had a snowball fight and made dirty snow angels~is that not the perfect name for a cocktail? I’m thinking Kahlua over shaved ice garnished with chocolate shavings. YUM!

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Until we trekked down the backside of Emigrant, we had yet to see another soul. Most folks, once they debark from the tram, venture no further than the High Camp swimming pool/restaurant/ice rink.

But at the top of Granite Chief, we ran into some locals on horseback. When we happened upon them, the group had tied up their steed and were chilling on some rocks, enjoying the view.

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One guy, a photographer in his late 20s, was kind enough to snap a few pics for us…

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He also gave us advice on how to connect with the Shirley Lake trail. We thanked him and took off down the mountain.

Saxon ventured away from our group traversing along a treacherous cliff completely covered in icy snow. I wondered how we would get him airlifted out after he plunged over the side.

As we made our way down the dirt path, a voice rang out on the quiet mountain.

“Hey! Any of you see a Coors Light? I buried one in the snow right by where you just walked.” It was our nice photographer calling from above.

Jimmy, Tanner and I looked at each other and shook our heads, “Sorry. We didn’t see it!”

We yelled to Saxon, who was attempting his Into Thin Air expedition 200 yards away. “Did you find a beer?”

“No-ooooooooo,” his voice echoed back.

“Sorry,” we called up the mountain, “No one saw it.”

At the top of Granite Chief the man began kicking furiously through the snow, searching for his brew. “Are you positive?” he called, more agitated.

“Yes, we’re positive!” My dry, parched mouth could feel his pain. Our Sigg water bottle drained, I imagined how refreshing an icy Silver Bullet would have tasted right then. “But thanks for the pictures!”

We soldiered on, down the wider, dirt trail for another thirty minutes until we reached emerald green Shirley Lake. We dipped in her hot and cold pockets, sharing the water with only one other family and their dogs.

We had heard there were amazing waterfalls just twenty minutes from the bottom so we decided to hike the rest of the way down the mountain. “Just follow the blue arrows spray painted on the rocks,” our friends by the lake told us. And so we did.

Of course after 10 minutes, Jimmy (aka Helen Keller) got us lost and the kids started freaking out and begging us to turn around and head for the tram. But we righted ourselves, and before long caught a glimpse of Squaw Village, a tiny toy train town far off in the distance.

By then we’d been hiking four hours. Exhausted, we gingerly side-stepped down the sheer granite cliffs until finally, our ears perked up at the sound of gurgling water. A series of eight-to- ten waterfalls cascaded over rocks and boulders. We stopped at one and jumped into a bubbling pool,  re-energized by the chilly snow melt water…

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As we curved through a dense section of forest toward the bottom, Saxon said, “Hey, guys, I have a confession.”

“What?” we asked.

“You know that guy’s beer? I kicked it off the cliff.”

“What? What were you thinking?” we chided.

“I’m sorry,” Saxon said sheepishly .

“Well, please tell us you drank it first,” Jimmy replied.

“No, I thought it was buried like you do at the beach with an empty can,” Saxon explained.

“Man! That poor guy. He was probably so looking forward to that ice cold beer before his ride back down the mountain,” we chided. “You should have come clean.”

We limped the last mile back to the village, and scored a table at the sushi restaurant where we pounded Arnold Palmers, and frosty Sapporo, and all the water we could drink.

Coors light

Sorry, nice photographer guy. Saxon owes you a 12-pack of Silver Bullets.

Or at least a Dirty Snow Angel.

Cheeks ‘n’ Chodes

sax with bunz

After rafting the gridlocked Truckee River and battling the masses for shady piece of real estate at Angora Lake on a recent trip to Tahoe, the Ratty Pack was craving some solitude. I had read about Secret Cove Beach located a few miles up Highway 28 from Sand Harbor not far from Incline Village. You have to park along the highway and hike down a 1/4-mile trail. When we arrived at 11 a.m., there were only a dozen or so cars which was a good sign. Halfway down the path, pine needles crunching under our feet, we caught a glimpse of gorgeous aquamarine water. Another good sign!

view from trail

The closer we got to the beautiful beach, the more excited I became.
The closer we got to the beautiful beach, the more excited I became.

At the end of the trail, we rounded a corner and easily found a spot on the beach. The good news was the crescent of white sand fringed by water in all hues of peacock feather blue! Dotting the beach were only 40 people or so. The bad news? 36 of those beach goers were naked. Yes, we had stumbled upon a clothing optional beach.

Let’s be honest, the RP aren’t exactly the most modest peeps. I got voted “Most Local” in high school (code for “Chick Most Likely to Cut Class & Sunbathe Topless at Cowells). And, one would be hard pressed to find a photo on Facebook of Jimmy actually wearing a shirt.

But we are parents of two teenagers now. We have standards to uphold. Oh, who am I kidding? I would’ve sold my soul for a dip in that pristine aqua water.

No sooner had we unfurled our towels than Tanner whipped out his phone and updated his Facebook status. “The moment when you think you’re headed to a chill beach, and it turns out to be a nudist beach with no inhabitants under the age of 60. Scarred for life.”

He wasn’t the only one who was scarred. We saw a guy floating spread eagled on a raft, baking his buns of cottage cheese to golden perfection. And a pot bellied octogenarian with Brillo pad pubes cruising the beach for geriatric talent.

And a woman with a droopy rack who was a dead ringer for Magda…

You remember her, don't you? The leathery old lady from "There's Something About Mary."
You remember her, don’t you? The leathery old lady from “There’s Something About Mary.”

Let’s just say no one looked like Channing Tatum

…or Kate Upton.

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It was a peaceful scene though as people waded through the cove’s clear aqua water and sunned themselves on big boulders, and truthfully, as more people came, the crowd was half clothed, half not.

The boys pissed and moaned for a while—”Ah, gross,” said Sax. “It’s a parade of cheeks and chodes.” But after a while they chilled out and stopped complaining. Tanner memorized his lines for the Los Gatos Youth Theatre’s summer musical, 13, which—gratuitous plug!—everyone should come see!

The nude dude in the background has no idea Tanner is going to be famous someday.
The nude dude in the background has no idea Tanner is going to be famous someday.

Sax, Jimmy and I hiked around the corner to a deserted spot where giant grey boulders rose from the lake like sleeping elephants. We leapt off the rocks and luxuriated in that clear aqua water. It was heaven.

After we swam back in, we discovered that we had a new nudie neighbor to our left. His privates were mercifully hidden by a granite rock, although we did catch occasional glimpses of his tatted up tush. “If you want to use the floaty, it’s for everybody,” he graciously offered, pointing to a plastic raft tucked into a granite niche. I smiled and politely thanked him. “Boys, any takers?” I said.

“No thanks, we’ll Pasadena on the communal air mattress,” they said.

After an hour or so, we packed up. We had a good giggle on the hike back to the car, but all agreed we would take the serenity of Secret Cove over kooked-out Lake Angora any day. And as a parent, I was proud of my boys for being fairly tolerant. Why is our society so freaked out by nudity? As long as people aren’t lurkers (and I didn’t get a creepy vibe from anyone at Secret Cove whatsoever), Jimmy and I wanted our boys to know it’s cool by us. Live and let live.

Even if I wished it had been Channing Tatum down there sunning his buns.

Ironman and the Yoga Queen

“Hi,” I said to the ranger inside the booth at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. “We’re doing the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.”

“You know it’s already past 3 p.m.?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes, we know.”

I’d masterminded the ultimate adventure—a “strenuous” hike followed by dinner at Laili, a Mediterranean-Afghan restaurant in Santa Cruz—and no ‘noid ranger was gonna stop me.

Who did this guy think he was dealing with anyway? Jimmy is an Ironman and they don’t call me the chaduranga queen in yoga for nothing.

“We can hike 12 miles in 2 & 1/2 hours easy,” I bragged.

“Thirteen. It’s actually 13 miles,” said Mr. By-the-Book, who insisted we leave a note on our dash for his night relief.

“Dearest Ranger,” I wrote,We pre-parked a car at the finish near Waddell Beach. Please don’t worry if we don’t return for our Prius until after 9 p.m. See you soon!

Then, map in hand, Jimmy and I were off. “What’s his problem?” I scoffed. “There’s plenty of light.”

We trekked through stunning old-growth redwoods and fern-lined canyons, and in no time passed Mile Marker 1. “Only 12 more miles to go!” I exclaimed.

Forty-five minutes later we came upon Berry Creek Falls, the crown jewel of Big Basin. The 60-foot waterfall was so tropical it felt like Hawaii…

Berry Creek Falls

…except darkness was closing in and we still had 10 miles left, so back onto the trail we hustled.

Moments after leaving the Falls the trail suddenly dead ended. Through the dusk, I spied another path — on the opposite side. The only way across was atop a wobbly gutter MacGyvered across the deep, gushing creek.

One slip and down we’d plunge into the icy water.

We crossed unscathed, but a rained out, mucky Slip ‘N’ Slide of a path awaited.

Ironman took the lead, mud skating over the puddles, his neon orange Nikes beacons guiding us through the ever darkening forest.

Thirty minutes later we found ourselves enveloped in blackness.

dark & snowy night

We clicked on our iPhone flashlight apps, a sorry light source for the dark, creepy forest. Just then a mountain biker coming from the Falls zoomed past, his headlight momentarily illuminating the woods.

“Hello!” I cried. “How much longer to Waddell Beach?”

I expected him to say three, maybe four miles MAX.

“About eight miles,” he said.

“Nooooo!” I wailed.

Having depleted our almonds ages ago, all I could think of was the roasted pumpkin borani we planned to devour at Laili later–that was if a hungry mountain lion didn’t devour us first.

“I’m scared, Jimmy. What if we wind up like that couple in the ‘8os who got stranded in a blizzard for five days. They made a TV movie of the week starring Neil Patrick Harris, remember?”

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“If they make a movie about us who would should play you—Rob Lowe?”

“No way,” sniffed Jimmy. “Rob has man boobs. I need someone like Marky Mark, only more yoked.”

Time passed–An hour? Five hours? Time drags when you’re so cold you’re dreading losing your toes to frostbite.  “How many days do you think Tanner and Saxon will keep playing Minecraft before they notice we’re missing?” I asked Jimmy.

“Dunno. At least a week.”

Just when I could not take one more step there it was: Mile Marker 13!

We hugged, then looked around.

Maybe my fuzzy vision was distorted from staring at the tiny pinhole of light for so long, but our car was nowhere to be found. All we saw was an unlit paved road leading into the dark unknown.

Little did we know the additional three miles out to coast where we’d parked ratcheted our hike to 16 miles.

Shivering, hungry, clutching our phones with swollen sausage fingers we soldiered on, until…

…finally, off in the distance…wait, could it be? Yes, high beams of cars whizzing down Highway 1 beckoned us like a lighthouse.

We dragged ourselves the remainder, then collapsed in the car.

Ironman and the Yoga Queen ate some serious humble pie that day.

Then, after thawing out, we hit Laili and feasted on pumpkin borani.

“We made it!” we said, clinking frosty mugs of Belgium pale ale.

“You didn’t have to amputate our toes in the middle of the forest!” I exclaimed.

“And Rob & his moobies didn’t have to star in my life story!” Jimmy added.

Rob & Jimmy

If you’re craving adventure, this is a great one. Just take our advice~park at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, hike the Berry Creek Falls loop (7 miles roundtrip), then head straight for Laili for roasted pumpkin borani. Cheers!

Oh, and Jennifer? If I don't make it out alive next time, are you available?
Oh, and Jennifer? If I don’t make it out alive next time, are you available?

 

Shopping Under the Influence

Proof that you should not go birthday shopping w/ your 14-year-old in downtown Santa Cruz after consuming two mai tais at Hula’s:

Not only will he will walk away with $50 donut print Sanuk bedroom slippers

I swear I didn't know they were called "Glazed and Confused."
I swear I didn’t know they were called “Glazed and Confused.”

…but he will also score a pair of WEED kneesocks.

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“Was that a good choice?” tsked Jimmy when we met up at the car.

“No,” I replied sheepishly. What could I say other than the Appletons Gold Rum impaired my parental judgement?

Could have been worse. I’m pretty sure if I’d pounded two Scorpion Bowls, Saxon might have hoodwinked me into buying these…

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When did kneesocks become fashionable again anyway?

The Curse of the Cussing Skier

Every New Year Jimmy resolves to stop swearing. Alas after 21 years of marriage I’ve come to the conclusion that my husband is powerless to profanity.

Ski trips are an especially ugly trigger.

Over break we headed to Lake Tahoe for a few days. There we were changing in the frigid Sugar Bowl parking lot, only to discover that Sax was busting out of his old snow pants. They were two sizes too small, total floods. He couldn’t even zip them.

Already exhausted from packing, driving and unpacking our equipment, that snafu set off Jimmy’s cussfest. “Dammit Kim! I told you to have Saxon try on his pants before we left!”

Oops.

“Come on, dude!” he yelled, shoehorning the kid into his puffy polyester Daisy Dukes. “BUTTON that F***ER!”

“I can’t!” Saxon whined.

“Um, dad, where’s my ski jacket?” Tanner asked sheepishly from the back seat.

“What do you mean, where’s your ski jacket?” erupted Jimmy. “You F*CKIN’ forgot it? You’re 16! What the F**K, man?”

In calmer moments, Jimmy has admitted the reason behind his pyscho-ness. He says it’s because our teenagers have a case of pussitis. He has a point, I thought, as I watched Tanner wrestle his foot into his new-used ski boot along with two pairs of socks and the bottom six inches of his sweatpants. “Dad!!! This boot is too small! If I shove it in, my ankle’s literally gonna break.”

“Well, why are you wearing two pairs of effing socks?” Jimmy yelled, violently ripping a pair off Tanner’s feet, “and get those sweats the hell out of there!”

By now people in the parking lot were staring. I was mortified. When we finally got up the mountain, the weather was windy and freezing, but we toughed it out until the last lift closed. Then per tradition, we warmed up in our toasty car with apres ski brie and brews, sparkling Clementine Izzes for the dudes. “Ahh,” sighed Jimmy. “Maybe skiing is worth all the hassle.”

After crashing at our pricey one-star hotel, we got a late start the following morning, and SKI NAZI was raging. “This trip is costing me BANK! Why can’t you guys get your A$$ES out of bed earlier?”

I felt bad that we slept in, but I was wiped from the holidays. Plus I was dreading the single digit temps. Thankfully it turned out to be an epic day at Squaw Valley, sunny and gorgeous and…

…Uh-oh. There was Jimbo, lumbering across the frozen tundra like a rabid polar bear. “Guess how much 2-day passes for a family of four cost?” he bellowed. “Seven hundred and forty-eight F*CKING bucks!”

Oh shoot. It was 11 a.m. and we were just now hitting the slopes. Plus the mountain was packed. It was practically costing us $10 a run. Jimmy and Saxon left Tanner & me in the dust. Just as well.  I needed a reprieve from the cuss-a-thon.

That night we met friends for dinner at Village Pizzeria. We had a great time, that is after Jimmy made it back from Sports Exchange in downtown Truckee to buy some used ski poles for Saxon. Unfortunately, we neglected to take into account that when your kid sprouts five inches in one year, he’s probably going to need taller poles. Saxon’s were so short, they looked like he stole them off Verne Troyer.

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I googled the store’s address and offered to Map it on his iPhone, but Mario Andretti  peeled out of the parking lot before I had a chance. I shrugged and went in and added our name to the 45-minute wait list. Five minutes later, my phone rang. “WHERE is this place?” Jimmy screamed. “What’s the EFFIN’ address?”

The next morning we rallied and hit the slopes by 9:30 a.m. SKI NAZI actually sweetened up: he tightened our boots, reminded us (nicely) to bend our knees and treated us to warm chocolate cookies from Wildflower Bakery. The four of us skied together and had a blast.

At 4:30 p.m., we trekked to the car, pounded a post-sesh Modelo, packed up, and headed home. Or at least we tried to. It took 35 minutes just to inch out of the parking lot.

“This traffic is SUCH a Cluster F**K!” yelled Jimmy. “The equipment, schlepping, packing, whining, crowds, everything!!! I F*cking HATE skiing!!!”

Look on the bright side, Jimmy, all those coins in your New Year’s swear jar will buy us another trip to Squaw Valley.

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"Seriously, Granite Chief Ski Shop, two hundred bucks for these Electric Blue Boogaloo powder pants? That's an EFF you to me!"
“Seriously, Granite Chief Ski Shop, two hundred bucks for these Electric Blue Boogaloo powder pants? That’s an EFF you to me!”

Barry Bringing It!

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Yesterday I scored a free pair of Barry Manilow tickets from my mechanic. The only dilemma? My man is NOT into Barry. Mr. Manilow may have sold more than 80 million records, but Jimmy would rather get a colonoscopy sans anesthesia than see him in concert.

“Dude, I did a 7:30 surgery today,” he whined when I bugged him at the office. “I put a titanium screw in somebody’s foot. I’m exhausted, plus the Raiders are playing. I’m not into this at all.”

So what I did was trick him. “Totally empathize, but since you’re commuting on 280 from Menlo Park anyway, want to grab dinner?”

We met at our fave Vietnamese place, 19 Market. After we’d polished off the last of the garlic prawns, I said coyly, “You know…HP Pavillion is right down the street. Let’s go to the concert. Just a fly-by. I PROMISE!“

“Oh, alright. But we’re OUT after two songs.”

When we arrived, the arena was packed-ish.

“Are you sitting in the wheelchair section?” Laura, my music snob friend texted me.

“Yeah! And my hearing aid is cranked to 10!” I cheerfully texted back.

Despite the median age of 65, the audience was showing Barry some serious glow stick love. That arena was an undulating sea of neon green.

Botoxed and bronzed, Barry looked fabulous and sounded even better–and, he was strutting his stuff with a sexy, black back up dancer half his age. He also played piano on most songs. Luckily we were late, so we only had to endure a couple of his lesser-known cheesy songs.

At first Jimmy was a total dud. He just sat there, arms crossed while checking SportsCenter on his iPhone.

“Let me take your pic,” I said.

“No way. I don’t want anyone to know I was here!”

Barry couldn’t have been more personable. Right before he launched into the Christmas-song schmaltz , he revealed that he’d attended a sketchy high school in a tough part of Brooklyn. “Being in the orchestra saved me,“ he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t sporty and can you image me in a gang?“

Not in that sequined fuchsia blazer I couldn’t. Or any of his other 20 other costume changes for that matter.

Finally Mr. Manilow delivered a tune I recognized. “I’m going to play the most romantic song in my catalog now. If you can’t get lucky to this one…” Barry laughed, before performing “Weekend in New England.”

I don’t know if it was the crashing waves projected on the big screen or Barry’s superb showmanship, but the song totally brought me right back to sloshing around on my waterbed, making out with my 7th grade boyfriend, Paul Michael.

“When will I see you againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?” Barry hit the high notes like a pro. Even Jimmy seemed impressed.  “He’s got a nice set of pipes and I like his piano playing. How old is Barry, anyway?“

“Hold on, let me Google it…OMG he’s 69!”

“Wow! Barry’s BRINGING it!“

Then things started getting really good. Barry sang “Can’t Smile without You” which totally reminded me of sloshing around on my waterbed, trying not to lock braces with my 8th grade boyfriend, Joe DiDuca, then “Mandy“ (slutty/sloshy–you know the drill) and finally, the piece de resistance–“Copacobana.”

The AARP crowd went wild for Lola and Rico, twirling their glow sticks, and when Barry thrust his mic toward the audience, hot damn if we didn’t whip ourselves into a frenzy singing the chorus…

“At the copa (CO!) Copacabana (Copacabana) / The hottest spot north of Havana / At the copa (CO!) Copacabana / Music and passion were always in fashion…”

He wasn’t dancing in the aisles like me, but even Jimmy seemed into it.

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Barry might have done an encore, but I can’t say for sure; we hightailed it out to beat the wheelchair gridlock.

On the street, I was positively high–it was as if I’d just taken a couple hits off a big joint of medicinal Barry-juana. “LOOKS LIKE WE MADE IT—through the concert, that is!” I crooned, locking arms with Jimmy as we headed to our car. “So what was your favorite? “Mandy?“ “I Write the Songs?“ Wait, I know—“Copacabana?”

“No, it was that I love you, baby one,” he said.

“Oh, you mean ‘Can’t Take My Eyes off You?’ That was Barry covering Frankie Valli,” I said. “Yay! That means we can go see “Jersey Boys,” the musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.“

“Don’t push your luck.”

Hot to Trot

On Thanksgiving morning we rousted early and headed to downtown San Jose for the 5K Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. The race benefits the Second Harvest Food Bank. Racers bring canned goods to donate and some people even show up in costumes–seriously, how can you not love Mayflower pilgrims and Butterball turkeys cranking out six-minute miles?

We’ve participated ever since our boys were little. For as long as I can remember the guys have rolled out of bed protesting. “Why can’t we sleep in on our vacation?” “Nobody else’s parents make them get up and run on holidays!”

Saxon, in particular, detests running. Here’s our M.O. in years past—Jimmy Jam deserts us within the first few blocks. Tanner, Sax and I trudge along at a tortoise pace for maybe all of a block, then Saxon grimaces, clutches his side and stops.

I break my stride and walk beside him, pumping him up, “You can do this, buddy!” “Pace yourself!”

Meanwhile his little red face fills with vitriolic rage while he screams, “I haaaaate running! This SUCKS!“

Suddenly, he rockets ahead, legs a Wile E. Coyote blur for oh, 60 seconds, before he cramps up again.

SPRINT. STOP. RAGE. REPEAT.

This lovely pattern persists for the next 2 & 3/4 miles. Every freakin’ year.

I never, ever get a workout.

Call us masochists but for some reason, Jimmy and I keep dragging the boys back to the Trot.

This year, the 8th (give or take a year or two when we slammed too many martinis the night before), something strange happened. We woke the teens up and they complied with nary a protest. They were even cheery.

We actually made it into line before the race started—a first.

As we muscled our way into the crowd, I nicknamed Jimmy and Saxon “TEAM CREAM” because they were sporting matching Creamsicle orange Nikes.

It was nice because we actually had time to goof around for a few minutes before the race. Mostly we did Tom Cruise imitations. Have you ever noticed how Tom runs in every movie he’s ever made? And when he runs, he karate chops the air.

Soon the announcer began the countdown and we were off! Saxon and Jimmy started together. The course is flat, fast and flows through neighborhoods and business areas.

Before long I noticed Saxon starting to run in that strained telltale fashion. Uh-oh.
But for once he didn’t stop and melt down. He kept going.
Tanner lagged behind and I ran alone. The air was crisp. I felt alive and appreciative to start a holiday centered around gratefulness in such a healthy way. Downtown shined up like a new penny in the bright morning sun, albeit a faintly urine-scented new penny. The restaurant windows glittered, Japantown sat tidily with with its tofu factory and markets, sushi bars and noodle houses.

Saxon and Jimmy fell into an easy, rhythmic pace, their Day-Glo kicks shining brightly, scorching the corneas of nearby runners like a total eclipse of the sun.

Feet pounding in time to the Taiko drums lining the course, I followed Team Cream until they dusted me around mile 2. When we all reunited near the finish line, Jimmy told me on that Thanksgiving morn, a miracle had occurred. Not on the scale of the birth of baby Jesus, but a miracle nonetheless. Saxon made it to the end without stopping once. And he even finished with a smile.

Ears to you, Saxon.

As we walked to the car I realized maybe it’s good to make our kids do stuff they hate once in a while.

They may not come around for years—or ever—but how will they ever know if they like something unless we encourage them to try?

From our pack to yours, happy holidays!

Tale of the Tainted Twinkie

Sometimes, when our teenagers are really bad, beating grounding them just won’t do.  We parents must get creative. During a recent visit with friends in San Diego, all I wanted was for my college bestie, Dasha, to think I was a semi-decent mom. With her husband, Dean, Dasha is raising two of the sweetest, refreshingly attitude-free girls on the planet. Since the bar was high, I gave Saxon a pep talk beforehand. It went something like this: Begoodbegoodbegoodpleasebegood. Unfortunately, he has a 13-year-old mind of his own. Here are but a few of the ways in which Saxon veered from the path of righteousness during our three-day stay:

1. Flipped off the camera whenever I tried to document our fun family adventure.

2. Authored the following Mad Lib: Hiking is a really shitty thing to do. But, hiking is nothing like going for a walk in the poop or pee around the house. The serious hiker needs lots of dumbass equipment.You must have very comfortable thongs. You will need a 69-foot rope.

3. Answered our gracious hosts, the Hervey family, with monosyllabic grunts.

Sample convo:

Dasha: “So Saxon, how do you like being at the top of the food chain in 8th grade?”

Saxon: “Good.”

Dean: “How ’bout them Giants, Sax?”

Saxon: “Good.”

Makena: “How did getting baptized at Hume Lake Christian Camp this summer change your life?”

Saxon: “Good.”

But these transgressions paled in comparison to his biggest sin, gluttony. Saxon chowed eight Twinkies in a 24-hour period.

I knew this because I bought him a box on our first day thinking he could stretch them out over the long weekend, or for that matter 20 years if he wanted—everyone knows preservative-laden Twinkies never ever go rancid.

But the next morning, Dasha’s daughter, Makena, alerted us that Sax was down to his last two Twinkies.

This called for serious consequences. There was only one thing to do: Punk the little bird flipping, Bad-Libbing Augustus Gloop!

Thankfully my partners-in-crime were up for the challenge.

Clockwise from right: Dasha, hostess with the mostess; Lauren, cutie with a bum thumb; and Makena, cool Indie music chick.
Ingredients at the ready…

Here’s what we did. With precision, Dasha extracted the creamy filling from the Twinkie…

I swear Dasha missed her calling as a neurosurgeon.

…then re-injected the moist, golden sponge cake with with creamy Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.

Lastly we carefully glued the plastic wrap back together, returned the bogus bakery product to its box and waited.

“Gimme a Twinkie!’

At 8:00 a.m. Saxon sauntered downstairs and beelined for the Twinkie box. As he ripped open the bag, we held our breath.  Uh-oh. He quickly noticed something was remiss. “Huh? Is this bag open? Oh well,” he shrugged, then shoved the tainted Twinkie into his piehole.

“What the ???”

Look on the bright side, Saxon. Not only are you cured of your addiction, but you have a new noun for your next Bad Lib: “Ranch- flavored Twinkie!”

Thanks for putting up with the Ratty Pack, Dash. You will always be my favorite mischief making, blonde hair tossing, partner-in-crime.

Kim & Dash, circa ’85.

The Other Mohawk Guy

This past summer I bribed our teenage sons, Tanner and Saxon, with extra computer time if they guest-wrote for our family blog. I hoped blogging might help offset the dreaded summer brain drain.  This is Saxon’s first—and probably last—contribution. 

 

“Mow’n all the Way”

    It was yesterday when I got a mohawk.  My mom just had to get highlights and a spray tan for her high school’s 30th reunion.  She was about to leave for her session when I asked, “Do you think I could get my mohawk after you’re done?”  She called Chris, her hairstylist, to see if he could fit me in.  He replied yes, and we sped down to Maddox Kai, the hair salon, to get our ‘dos done.

While my mom got her hair all sun kissed , the time went by so slow.  So I got out my Ipod and played a little Jet Pack Joyride. Sooner or later I was up! As I got in  the chair, he started buzzing off my hair in a movement like mowing the lawn.  It felt great! Chris was asking me if I was going to spike it up, dye it, etc.  He got out hair supplies and buzzed here, snipped there there, sprayed everywhere, and POOF, I was done!  I looked fantastic!

My mom and I thanked Chris many times, then finally got into the car.  When we were driving back I was thinking, Gosh, my grandma is gonna kill me!  I would probably give her a heart attack if she saw me like this.  She freaked out when I had long hair, but a mohawk, uh-oh.  All summer I been rocking a Hawaiian/Rasta look, but as soon as I got in the car I took off my pukka shell necklace because it clashed with my mohawk. Next, I think I’ll ask my mom if I can get ear plugs.

By Saxon

Editor’s note: Sax, if you even THINK about getting ear plug gauges, you’ll be grounded for life. I’m cool, but not that cool.